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. Luke 1:39-56
I love today’s gospel reading. As a woman who has been pregnant four times, this passage about Mary really amazes me. I know that all women have a different experience of pregnancy – and that each pregnancy with any given woman can be unique. Personally, I had a very difficult time with each of mine. They started off with horrible, almost debilitating nausea and vomiting, then as soon as the nausea would subside, preterm labor, medications with side effects and bed rest would follow. I cherish the incredible gift of my children so much, especially because it took so much to get them here!
When I think of Mary in her early stages of pregnancy, probably tired, maybe nauseated – hormonal – walking a long distance to go serve her elderly cousin Elizabeth, I am in awe. Sure, Elizabeth, being an “elderly” woman, by comparison, probably had lots more difficulties in her pregnancy. No doubt, she was in need of help toward the end. Mary overcame her own discomfort, and set her own needs aside for a time to care for someone who was in greater need. That had to be difficult. I know that God gave her many graces to accomplish this work of mercy, just as He gave me many graces to go to work and teach children when I felt that I would lose my breakfast at any moment. Those were very difficult days.
When I meditate upon this beautiful, joyful mystery, I ask Mary to help me to be able to overcome myself, especially in times of great difficulty – to put other’s needs above my own. I ask her to help me to become more selfless. Mary is our heavenly Mother and such a beautiful role model for all Christian women! I thank God for her!