The end of Luke’s first chapter in his gospel recounts Mary going in haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth. The archangel Gabriel informed Mary that Elizabeth was already six months pregnant, for nothing is impossible with God. Mary’s direct response after the angel’s message was to leave and attend to her aged and pregnant cousin. This encounter was a grace-filled moment between a mother who was full of grace and an elder woman who became pregnant at an advanced age.
The second joyful mystery of the rosary offers the opportunity to reflect on this mystery often during that prayer. If you are like me, most likely you think of what we hear in the gospel of Luke for your meditation. It is the joyful meeting of two women, the leaping of John the Baptist in the womb, and Mary’s Magnificat. When I read The Mystical City of God in a year for a podcast, one of the many realizations I walked away with was that this biblical moment among others was that much more transpired during the mystery. For example, there is Mary’s journey to be with Elizabeth. Then there are the three months Mary remains there. Mary observed the silent Zechariah. She spent nights talking and reflecting with Elizabeth. She witnessed the birth of John the Baptist.
Your reflection on the rosary mystery could include all those events too! Another worthy aspect for meditation are the graces of the Visitation. Here are a few that I identified:
The Grace of Charity
Mary’s response to the angel is one of kindness. She knows that her cousin will need help and as a result she goes to help. This is a mystery of kindness and love toward neighbor.
The Grace of Encounter
Mary and Elizabeth encounter each other. Artwork and tradition believes this encounter took place at the well. Not only do Mary and Elizabeth meet each other, but the infants in their womb encounter each other. John senses the presence of Jesus close to him, whose forerunner he will become.
The Grace of Joy
Mary and Elizabeth share a joyful moment together. This comes out in a few ways. First, Elizabeth joyfully greets Mary and acknowledges Jesus as Lord. Second, John leaps for joy in Elizabeth’s womb. Third, Mary proclaims her praise of God.
The Grace of Gratitude
The Magnificat of Mary is a hymn of gratitude. Mary recounts her joy at what has done for her but also shares her gratitude for what God has done. She knows the Almighty has done great things for her. He has cast the mighty down from their thrones and sent the rich away empty. Mary knows the history of Israel and is grateful for all that God has done for her and her people.
The Grace of Fertility
Elizabeth was infertile for many years. She never dreamed of having a child. With the cross that she and Zechariah faced, there also was the shame of not having children. The two were looked down upon within their community. But nothing is impossible for God and Elizabeth conceives in her barren old age. If you know a couple who is struggling to conceive, tell them to meditate on this biblical event, and ask Mary and Elizabeth’s intercession.