Luke 1:39-56; 1 Samuel 2:1-10; Genesis 18:1-15
The Story in Brief
The archangel Gabriel had told Mary that her relative, Elizabeth, was expecting a baby. Mary set out almost immediately for the hill county of Judea where Elizabeth lived with her husband, Zechariah. When Elizabeth heard Mary's joyful greeting, she felt the baby leap in her womb and found herself filled with the Holy Spirit. She cried out, blessing Mary and the infant in Mary's womb. In response, Mary proclaimed her “Magnificat,” a beautiful song of praise to God for the mercies He was showing to Israel and the whole world. Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months before returning home to Nazareth.
Points to Ponder
1. Judea was a very long way from Nazareth, and travel in those days was anything but easy. Meditate on Mary's journey.
2. Mary adopted the attitude of service and offered an immediate response to an order not explicitly given. The angel never told Mary to go visit Elizabeth, but Mary went anyway. Ponder Mary's servanthood.
3. There was nothing of the self in Mary. She acted with pure love. Reflect on that love.
4. Mary was not making such a long journey to see if the sign the angel gave her was true. If she had been so motivated, she would have gone before saying yes. Think about Mary's trust in God.
5. Mary went in haste. Why did she depart so quickly?
6. The Holy Spirit was very active, first on baby John, then on his mother, Elizabeth. Meditate on the Holy Spirit's marvelous work.
7. Elizabeth's prophecy, and yes, it was a prophecy (one that explains what God was doing in the world), was offered with a loud cry. This was a very emotional moment for Elizabeth, a very moving experience. Try to grasp Elizabeth's mental and spiritual state.
8. Elizabeth called Mary blessed for two reasons, her motherhood and her faith. Ponder these awesome blessings.
9. Mary and Elizabeth both showed a great deal of humility. Reflect on the humble expressions of these two amazing women.
10. This passage provides a strong argument against abortion as we see the presence and action of two unborn children. Ponder that argument.
11. What does it really mean to magnify the Lord? Mary is like a magnifying glass. She is transparent, but she makes the Lord appear bigger to those who look at and through her. Meditate on this important role of Mary.
12. We have the duty to call Mary blessed. We cannot ignore her. We must venerate her, for the Holy Spirit Who spoke through her says that all generations will call her blessed. What is true devotion to Mary?
13. Mary emphasized God's work in her life and God's mercy in the lives of all people. What did she say about these subjects?
14. What does it mean to scatter the proud in the thoughts of their hearts?
15. God's activity is often unexpected, indeed, the opposite of human norms and standards. He casts down so He can lift up. Think closely about this message regarding priorities in life.
16. Mary recognized her role in salvation history and proclaimed that a prophecy had been fulfilled. Ponder Mary's role and the fulfilled prophecy.
17. Reflect on Mary and Elizabeth's time together and their spiritual friendship. What did they do and talk about?
18. Look up 1 Samuel 2:1-10 and Genesis 18:1-15 and discover the parallels between Mary and Hannah and Elizabeth and Sarah.
1. How fast do you respond to God's prompting in your heart to act with love?
2. What are your motives for doing good for people? Are they pure?
3. What is your attitude toward serving other people?
4. How is the Holy Spirit moving and working in you? How are you responding?
5. How do you honor Mary? What is your attitude towards her? Do you recognize her for who she is and treat her accordingly?
6. Do you believe what has been spoken to you by the Lord?
7. How can you magnify the Lord?
8. How much time do you spend rejoicing in the Lord?
9. How are you doing on humility?
10. How much do you trust in God's mercy?
11. What great things has God done for you? How is He working in your life?
12. How are you being called to counter the norms and standards of the world?
13. Do you believe that God fulfills His promises?
14. Have you formed any close, spiritual friendships? How might you cultivate those you have?
Prayer, Prayer, and More Prayer
Blessing and adoration – Dearest Lord, we bless You for sending the Holy Spirit upon Mary and Elizabeth. We bow our heads in silent adoration as we wait for Your Holy Spirit to fill us and teach us to speak and pray according to Your will.
Praise – Jesus, we praise You! Even as a tiny infant in Your mother's womb, Your presence sanctified John the Baptist, who was still in his mother's womb. What amazing power and love You have poured out upon Your people over the centuries and still lavish on us today!
Thanksgiving – We thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your mother, who is our mother, too. We thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit. We thank You for doing such great things for us and for having mercy on us and for lifting up the lowly and filling the hungry with good things. Thank You for keeping the promise You made centuries ago and coming to live among us as a Man to save us and open the gates of Heaven for us.
Intercessions – Lord, we lift up to You all mothers-to-be and their babies. We ask You to bless them and keep them safe and healthy. We also lift up to You all travelers, Lord. Guide them and guard them on their journeys.
Petition – Lord, we beg You, make us lowly and humble before You. Allow our souls to magnify You. Have mercy on us, Lord, and fill us with good things, for we are hungry for You and for Your love.
Quotes from the Saints
“But soon the blessed fruits of Mary's coming and our Lord's presence are made evident. For it follows, And it came to pass, that when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb. Mark the distinction and propriety of each word. Elisabeth first heard the word, but John first experienced the grace. She heard by the order of nature, he leaped by reason of the mystery. She perceived the coming of Mary, he the coming of the Lord.” - St. Ambrose
“She was touched with the spirit of prophecy at once, both as to the past, present, and future. She knew that Mary had believed the promises of the Angel; she perceived when she gave her the name of mother, that Mary was carrying in her womb the Redeemer of mankind; and when she foretold that all things would be accomplished, she saw also what was as to follow in the future.” - St. Gregory the Great
“The first-fruit of the Spirit is peace and joy. Because then the holy Virgin had drunk in all the graces of the Spirit, she rightly adds, And my spirit has leaped for joy. She means the same thing, soul and spirit. But the frequent mention of leaping for joy in the Scriptures implies a certain bright and cheerful state of mind in those who are worthy. Hence the Virgin exults in the Lord with an unspeakable springing (and bounding) of the heart for joy, and in the breaking forth into utterance of a noble affection It follows, in God my Savior.” - St. Basil