- Posted by Guest Blogger
- On December 13, 2020
By Lead Blog Contributor: Daniella Palmiotto
The Second Joyful Mystery – The Visitation of Mary to her Cousin Elizabeth – Fruit: Love of Others
I invite you to join me as we continue our walk through of the Joyful Mysteries observing and learning from the Holy Family and how they responded to overwhelming circumstances and to uncertainty.
At the Annunciation, Mary was told that she was to become pregnant by the overshadowing of the Most High and that her Son would be in the line of David and would be the Son of God (Luke 1:32-35). The angel Gabriel also told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was now pregnant because “nothing will be impossible for God” (Luke 1:37). After giving her Fiat and the angel abruptly departing, the Gospel of Luke tells us that “Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste…where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth” (Luke 1:39-40).
At a time when Mary could have been inwardly focused allowing anxiety and fear to overcome her thoughts as she considered all that was before her, she was outwardly and upwardly focused instead. She went to serve her cousin Elizabeth and to celebrate the joyful and surprising news of her pregnancy. This Second Joyful Mystery is my favorite because of the pure selflessness of both of these women. Their response challenges me as I have been tempted many times this year to focus on how my own plans have been thwarted and I have found myself going down a tunnel of anxiety worrying about what will come next and whether my dreams and desires will ever come to fruition. In these moments when I am inwardly focused, I miss out on the opportunity to be there for others and to recognize that each person has experienced disappointment, disrupted plans, and uncertainty for what is next in our world. In addition, I miss out on opportunities for joy because joy comes in encountering others, serving others, and loving others.
This reminds me of the law of the gift as described by St. John Paul II, “[W]e are at our best, we are most fully alive and human, when we give away freely and sacrificially our very selves in love for another.” He elaborated on the concept that was presented in #24 of Gaudium et Spes (“Joy and Hope”), “man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself.” Mary and Elizabeth were living models of this in seeking to celebrate, serve, and love each other. They gave each other permission to celebrate what God was doing in their own lives and to celebrate what God was doing in the others’ lives.
Upon seeing Mary, Elizabeth felt “the infant [leap] in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? … Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled’” (Luke 1:41-43, 45). Every part of Elizabeth, including the unborn child in her womb, rejoiced upon encountering Mary because the Son of God was living and growing within Mary.
The way that Mary carried Jesus and brought Him to Elizabeth is an example to us of how we each carry Jesus, albeit in a different way than Mary carried Him. When we surrender ourselves to God, His love, and His perfect will, we each bring Jesus to the world. Mary did not know what was to come and how things would play out, but she was fully surrendered and rested in God’s nature and character. By doing so, she allowed God to work through her in ways beyond anything she ever imagined. She brought the hope, love, and joy of Jesus to everyone she encountered. When we follow Mary’s example in remaining outwardly and upwardly focused and resting in God’s nature and character, we too allow others to encounter Jesus just as Elizabeth and John the Baptist in her womb encountered Him and we bring the hope, love, and joy of Jesus to others.
The exchange between Mary and Elizabeth at the Visitation was reciprocally life-giving. Elizabeth offered affirmation for Mary as she celebrated her fiat by stating, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Luke 1:45). Elizabeth’s words spoke truth to Mary at a time when there was so much up in the air. I think we all know how it feels when a friend or family member celebrates us, affirms us, and speaks truth into our lives. We experience joy, relief, support, hope, and rest. Mary’s sigh of relief in response to Elizabeth celebrating the way that she believed that what was spoken by the Lord would be fulfilled was the Canticle of Mary, a beautiful celebration of God’s work in her life and a statement of humility, trust, and surrender. I am going to end with this Canticle for each of us to read slowly, to digest, and to meditate on God’s love, goodness, grace, and willingness to fill our lives with blessings. He is filling each of our lives with love, mercy, goodness, grace, and blessings and it is up to us to look outwardly and upwardly and to rejoice in each other, to see how we are being called to love and to serve regardless of our circumstances, and to recognize again that we can trust in the nature and character of the God that we love and serve.
And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
My spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; Behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, And holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age
To those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
Dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones But lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
The rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant, Remembering his mercy,
According to his promise to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his descendants forever.”