The Visitation--The Second Joyful Mystery
As we approach Christmas, I am writing about each of the Five Joyful Mysteries. You can read about the First Joyful Mystery--The Annunciation here.
The Second Joyful Mystery is the Visitation. This is when Mary, upon hearing of her cousin Elizabeth's miraculous pregnancy, left her home in Nazareth to travel to Judah to serve Elizabeth.
The Visitation demonstrates Mary's complete selflessness. Mary had just been informed by the Angel Gabriel that she was going to miraculously conceive and bear a son, the Messiah. But her first thoughts went to her cousin's hardship in bearing a child in her old age.
Many scholars believe that Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah lived in Hebron which is about 80 miles from where Mary was in Nazareth. The journey would have been long, difficult, and dangerous, but Mary made it anyway out of concern for her cousin.
When she arrived at Elizabeth's home she greeted her cousin. At the greeting, Elizabeth's baby--the future John the Baptist--leaped in his mother's womb. The baby leaped because he was filled with the Holy Spirit as the Christ Child, barely conceived in Mary's womb, bestowed His grace upon His unborn cousin, John.
When Elizabeth saw Mary her humility shined through, and so did her recognition of Mary as the mother of the Messiah. Elizabeth asks, "Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" This is the proper attitude for us all to take before Mary, the Mother of God. She is the mother of the Lord, the Queen of Heaven, and deserves our respect. But it is not just her motherhood of Jesus that makes Mary so full of grace. Most importantly is her faith and obedience to God.
Elizabeth recognizes this, Mary's greatest virtue, in the very next line, "Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." Mary is blessed because she obeyed God. This was Jesus' point about His mother in two later passages. Though both of them have been incorrectly used to belittle Mary's role in the salvation of mankind they actually point out why Mary is so blessed and deserving of the title Full of Grace.
The first passage comes from Luke 11. A woman cried out to Jesus "Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed." Jesus responded, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and observe it." Jesus is not saying that His mother isn't blessed. Instead he is saying His mother is not blessed simply because she is His mother, but more importantly because she heard the word of God and observed it. Remember Mary's response to the angel was, "I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word [emphasis added]."
The second passage where Jesus confirms that Mary is blessed for her faith and obedience comes from Mathew 12 and Luke 8. Jesus is teaching and someone tells him that his mother and brothers are outside. Jesus replies in Luke 8:21 that "My mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it." And in Matthew 12:50 He explains that "whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother." Again Jesus is pointing out, just as Elizabeth did, that Mary is blessed not simply because she bore Jesus, but because she "believed that what was spoken about [her] by the Lord would be fulfilled." Mary, more than any other mortal human heard the word of God and acted on it.
In response to Elizabeth, Mary, ever humble, chooses to praise God for His blessings. In the Magnificat Mary praises the Lord for the great blessings He has bestowed on His handmaid. I will close out with that beautiful text in full:
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid; from this day all generations will call me blessed;
Because He who is mighty 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 remembered his promise of mercy--
Even as He spoke to our fathers-- to Abraham and to his posterity forever."
Next is the Third Joyful Mystery--The Nativity.
R.C. VanLandingham lives in Florida with his wife and kids. Get his Christian fantasy book Peter Puckett & The Amulet of Eternity FREE Here!