Mary visits her relative, Elizabeth
Visitation Fresco from the Matris Domini Convent, Bergamo, 13th Century
The Gospel leaves so much detail out. For example, it is extremely unlikely that a teenage woman like Mary would have made the dangerous journey from Nazareth to Judea of many days walk alone. Was Mary sent by her family to help the older woman in the later stages of her pregnancy or was she acting out of curiosity after the message of the angel? Taking into account the message of the angel that Elizabeth was six months pregnant, then Mary must have stayed until just after the birth of John. How did she react to his birth?
Although we cannot definitively know the answer to the questions above, we can ask that God inspire our imagination to fill out the story in the way that helps us to understand. Not that this could be thought of as the way it actually happened, just that it brings us to realise something about these events that God wishes us to see and feel.
After all, the birth of a child is an emotional time for many who are caught up in it.
Preparation: Begin by stilling; then dedicating the time of prayer to God and asking God that all you think, feel and imagine are for the glory of God.
Gift: Ask for what you desire. You may wish to share in the joy of meeting a loved relative.
Setting: Imagine you are on the journey with Mary from Nazareth to the hill country of Judea. Is she alone or in company?
Imagine the meeting between Mary and Elizabeth.
Luke 1:39-56 NRSVA
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?
For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy.
And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’
Mary’s Song of Praise
And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’
And Mary remained with her for about three months and then returned to her home.
Conversation: Talk to Jesus or Mary as a friend about whatever comes to you.
Imagine how they might reply.
Final Prayer: End with a formal prayer such as the Lord’s Prayer/Our Father or Hail Mary.
The Music: Magnificat Composed by John Rutter sung by the Cambridge Singers with the City of London Sinfonia.