In the Gospel of Luke, we are told the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, visiting her cousin, Elizabeth, a few months into her pregnancy. Elizabeth is also pregnant, with John the Baptist. As with many feasts there is a formal title for this day (May 31), The Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Church year traces a path through Mary’s life. The feast of the Annunciation is on March 25. The angel visits exactly nine months before Christmas. (No doubt many women over the centuries have wished they could have had such pinpoint planning for their babies.) On August 15, we remember the death of Mary, this day has various names. In some Episcopal Churches the older date of September 8 is kept.
So, what is so special about this family visit? It is from this story which we get a real acknowledgement of who this baby that Mary is carrying from Elizabeth as she addresses her junior cousin, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened that the mother of my Lord comes to me?” (Luke 1:42-43)
Mary speaks of her own blessing in the words which we now call the “Song of Mary” or the “Magnificat”. She is chosen for a great task and rejoices in God’s greatness. These are not the words of a demure and weak person, they are words of abiding trust in the strength and mercy of God.
Together these two women provide examples of people who have allowed themselves to be turned upside down and inside out by God and rejoice in God working through them.