Blessed Are You

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Nicolas Vleughels, Holy Family (1729)

And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
—Luke 1:43

Jacopo_Coppi_detto_‘del_Meglio__La_Visitazione,_Olio_su_tavola_177_x_141._Galleria_Romigioli_antichità2

 

Although she did not know it, Elizabeth’s whole life had been leading up to this moment. For decades, she had lived in quiet piety in a small, ordinary village. Her whole married life she had prayed for a child, until her childbearing years had passed and she was an old woman. Through all this disappointment and seemingly unanswered prayers, Elizabeth never grew bitter toward God. She remained a faithful servant, bringing glory to God in her barrenness. Her hope was a sign of God’s grace to her people, for even in her desolation, His promises sustained her soul.

Jerónimo_Ezquerra_Visitation2And then, to Elizabeth’s surprise, she was called to be a sign of God’s grace in a new, miraculous way: as the mother of John the Baptist, the one who would point the way to the Messiah. We see in Luke’s Gospel the account of Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth, when each had just received a wondrous and weighty mission from God. They greeted one another in exaltation, amazed at how God was using them to bear His grace into the world.

Elizabeth’s faithfulness to God in all the small moments of her life prepared her to speak those prophetic words: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” After so many years in prayer, speaking with God and listening to His voice, she recognized with joy and humility that she was now in His presence. She marveled at the roles He had entrusted to her and to Mary—never comparing each other’s blessings and sorrows, but instead embracing the important role she had been given.

Jacopo_Pontormo_040Each of us bears the image of God into the world, and each of us has an important calling to fulfill. As we celebrate the Incarnation, may we also be aware of God’s presence in the people around us. May we, like Elizabeth, call out with joy as we recognize the blessedness of our brothers and sisters, delighting in one another’s gifts.

 

___

Images:
1. Nicolas Vleughels, Holy Family (1729) / PD-US
2. Jacopo Coppi del Meglio, The Visitation / PD-US
3. Jerónimo Ezquerra, The Visitation / PD-US
4. Jacopo da Pontormo, Visitation / PD-US
Originally published at Frassati Reflections.

Erin Cain

Erin Cain

Erin Cain is a writer and editor living in New York City, drinking lots of Earl Grey tea, and attempting to grow in virtue and love. She writes at Work in Progress.

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1 thought on “Blessed Are You”

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    It is important to note that Elizabeth had no way of knowing that Mary was bearing her “Lord” (God), nor did she have any way of knowing that Mary had been told something amazing from God that she had to believe. All of this knowledge, the Bible tells us, is due to an inspiration of the Holy Spirit given to Elizabeth. Moreover, the Bible tells us that Elizabeth was enlightened when she heard the greeting of Mary (which would have been the blessing “Peace” in standard Jewish tradition). These facts should lead us to a deeper understanding of Mary’s union with the Holy Spirit (Bride of the Holy Spirit) which is how she could become the mother of the Lord (God). It also helps us understand why Jesus gave her to us as our new Mother of the redeemed humanity (since Christ is the head of the Church) — a title that was hers since Eve had failed in her mission as a spiritual mother of humanity and had become just the mother of children destined to death.

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