Living the Gospel – December 23, 2018

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The Visitation

Why did Mary leave her home, her family, to go to Elizabeth? There were probably multiple factors guiding her decision. Her village would not be forgiving for her premature pregnancy and would shame both her and her betrothed, Joseph. Getting out of town would provide both of them a measure of protection for the next few months. More importantly, by confirming Elizabeth’s pregnancy with her own eyes, she would be verifying the words Gabriel had spoken to her. It wasn’t that she didn’t believe them, but it would help in this uncertain time of her life to have that kind of affirmation. Mary knew, because of the miraculous nature of their pregnancies, that Elizabeth would understand Mary’s situation and wouldn’t be judging her as immoral.

But I see a yet another reason, one that resonates with me during the Christmas season perhaps most strongly. Mary was a kind and loving girl, always ready to help another. By going to stay with her cousin, she would be able to help. Elizabeth was much older, past child-bearing age, and would likely need extra help. Mary was young and strong. Elizabeth had shut herself away, not ready to let others know of her pregnancy, possibly because she was unsure if she could carry this child to term and didn’t need the villagers reminding her of her inadequacy. Mary could offer her cousin both physical and emotional support during this challenging time. Mary was a giver and would do what was necessary to serve one in need.

The unborn infant John danced in Elizabeth’s womb, celebrating the coming of the Savior. His joy was contagious, causing his mother to proclaim her own joy. Mary, in turn, praised God for the joy he brings to the lowly. It was a very special time for Mary and Elizabeth, and now for us.

I can relate to the joy of those first movements wakening the womb. Until they are felt, a pregnancy doesn’t quite feel real. The promise of a savior was, until that moment, just a promise; one that might or might not be fulfilled in their lifetime. But now it was a tangible reality, bringing a secret joy to the two mothers-to-be. When I prepare to celebrate Christmas, I also hold a secret joy in my heart. In a few days, it will be time for the birth of the Savior and time to let the world know of this joy. But for now, I can best prepare by being the same kind of thoughtful, helpful person that Mary exemplified when she went to visit Elizabeth. I can bring joy to others, and that’s the best gift to give anyone at Christmas.

Linda Crowley