"John was "filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb" by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary's visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people." - CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (717)
Gospel Text: (LK 1:39-56)
Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped 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?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”
Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Visitation of Mary. There are so many moments in this Gospel passage about which we could reflect upon. I would like to focus on just one.
Just as the mother of the Messiah approaches the mother of the Forerunner – at the very moment Mary’s greeting was heard – John leaped for joy in Elizabeth’s womb.
1st Peter 1:8 explains it pretty well…
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”
When I thought about this encounter between John the Baptist as an infant in the womb of his mother Elizabeth and Jesus it kind of made me chuckle a little bit as I was reminded of that age-old question, “What is my purpose in life?” Even before his birth, John the Baptist was pointing the way to Christ.
Today’s Gospel uncovers that all of us have a “bottom-line” vocation – that we are all called to be like Mary and bring Christ to our world, and to be like John the Baptist and point the way to the Saving Lord. In all we do, and all we experience, God is there, and we are called to see Him, to announce Him. This quote from St. John Chrysostom of John the Baptist can certainly be considered a solid and unmistakable blueprint for our own lives:
"He has not yet left the womb but he speaks by leaping; he is not yet allowed to cry out but he makes himself heard by his actions; he has not yet seen the light but he points out the Sun.”