The Feast of the Visitation through Elizabeth’s eyes

By Rita Buettner

Just for a moment, imagine you are Elizabeth.

For years and years you waited to become a mother.

Month after month, you cried with disappointment and frustration and sadness.

For so long you have celebrated others’ pregnancies, others’ births as you carried your burden of emptiness, failure, and loss.

And then one day, at long last, long after you think it could and should be possible, you realize your prayers have been answered. You are expecting a baby. You can hardly believe it. You rejoice with your husband. With excitement, with hope, with a little fear, you wait to meet your little one.

Then, as you prepare for your baby to be born, you receive word that your cousin Mary is also expecting.

For a moment, your world stops.

How is it, you wonder, that a mere child can become pregnant so easily? She isn’t even married merely betrothed – and yet God is already giving her the gift you dreamed of for decades. Why, God? Why do you give to her so easily what I have awaited for so long? You struggle to push aside the bitter memories of the past, maybe even more difficult as you face the emotions and physical challenges that come with a pregnancy later in life.

Maybe you’re also angry with yourself for not being able to be completely happy for your cousin.

But then Mary arrives. And as she approaches and greets you, your child leaps within your womb. You are filled with the Holy Spirit, and you feel nothing but joy.

Joy for Mary and Joseph.

Joy for your child.

Joy for you.

Joy for the world.

You are humbled. Full of awe of God’s plan –  both for your child and hers. And you give thanks. Thanks to God for these children. Thanks to God for clarity. Thanks to God for lifting your veil of sadness and grief to allow you to recognize this tremendous Gift, one who will change the world.

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

So blessed.

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The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.