Mary then set out for a town in the hill country of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and, giving a loud cry, said, “You are most blessed among women; and blessed is the fruit of your womb! How is it, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you, who believed that the Lord’s word would come true!”
And Mary said,
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God, my savior!
He has looked upon his servant, in her lowliness, and people, forever, will call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
Holy is his Name!
From age to age, his mercy extendsto those who live in his presence.
He has acted with power and done wonders, and scattered the proud with their plans.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up those who are downtrodden.
He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.
He held out his hand to Israel, his servant, for he remembered his mercy, even as he promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.”
Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned home.
In ancient Israel the king could choose any of his sons to be king because there was as yet no special right of the first-born son to succeed his father. And the king had a wide choice because his harem could contain any number of wives and concubines, all eager to have one of their sons chosen. However, once the king had announced his choice, the particular wife or concubine who happened to be the mother of the chosen son officially became the Gebira or Great Lady (Queen Mother), that is, “the mother of my lord,” the king.
In today’s gospel reading we hear Elizabeth saying to Mary, “how is it that the mother of my Lord comes to me?” Obviously, she is fully aware that Mary is carrying in her womb the Messiah-King. And so, quite logically she marvels that the Great Lady, the Queen Mother should visit her.
Well, for the next three months this Queen Mother served her cousin like a simple charwoman, no doubt taking on herself the heaviest domestic chores, since old Elizabeth could no longer perform them in her advanced state of pregnancy.
Jesus said of himself that he had come to serve (Mt 10: 45), although he is our king. It was only fitting that his mother make herself a mere servant.
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