SOME OLD TESTAMENT BACKGROUND:
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
This is the old chant for "O Oriens". You can listen to it HERE.
O DAY-SPRING FROM ON HIGH,
Brightness of Eternal Light,
and Sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those
who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.
Song of Songs 2:8-14, Luke 1:39-45
Most of us have realized at one time or another, no matter how fleetingly, that the solution to many of our personal problems may be found in just forgetting ourselves, more positively, in concentrating our attention and energy on someone else or on some good cause. Today we think of Mary - after her words of acceptance to the Angel - "making haste", climbing up into the hill country to share with her cousin Elizabeth (and John the Baptist discerning the sacredness of this Visitation from the vantage point of his mother's womb!). Possibly Mary went in order to share with Elizabeth what had happened to her; but undoubtedly she made that arduous journey so as to assist Elizabeth - a much older woman - in her pregnancy. We read that Mary stayed there for three months.
But what a visit! No wonder it has a feast day of its own in the middle of the year. Notice that the older woman says she is "honoured" with a visit from "the mother of my Lord."
It is also significant that Elizabeth says to Mary, "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (v.45). May we be known as children of Mary who always believe that the Lord will fulfil his word!
There is, of course, a sense in which the Church is foreshadowed in Mary's visit to Elizabeth. As Mary carried Jesus within her and brought great joy to her cousin, so our vocation is to bless others by bringing Jesus to them.
This beautiful prayer is very appropriate for today:
Almighty Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
you have revealed the beauty of your power
by exalting the lowly virgin of Nazareth
and making her the mother of our Saviour.
May the prayers of this woman
bring Jesus to a waiting world
and fill the void of incompletion
with the presence of her child,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
on God, for ever and ever. Amen.