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Kerry WeberMay 31, 2023
Pontormo, Visitation, fresco, 1516, Basilica della Santissima Annunziata, Chiostrino dei Voti, Florence. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A Reflection for the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Find today’s readings here.

When I was pregnant with my second child, my younger sister was pregnant, too. There is a particular joy and solidarity in being pregnant at the same time as someone to whom you are close, and today’s Gospel captures a bit of that unique feeling.

The Gospel concludes: “Mary remained with her about three months, and then returned to her home.” I sometimes think of those three months Mary and Elizabeth spent together and what else they discussed. I think about how they served each other and supported each other, how even the children in their wombs could feel the weight and light of their time together. When your conversation begins with one of the most famous and repeated exclamations of all time—”blessed are you among women,/ and blessed is the fruit of your womb”—and then segues into one of the most challenging and revolutionary prayers in the Bible—i.e., “He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,/ and has lifted up the lowly.”—what else is there to say to each other?

There is a particular joy and solidarity in being pregnant at the same time as someone to whom you are close, and today’s Gospel captures a bit of that unique feeling.

After their initial exchange, Mary and Elizabeth probably could have said nothing more in the three months that ensued and still had plenty to think about and contemplate in their hearts. But they almost certainly did say much more in their daily interactions that followed. They likely laughed and joked and worked and cried and grew tired and maybe even argued. They may have expressed hopes or fears while cooking or cleaning or going for walks.

And this is another reason I love their exchange in this Gospel. It is packed with deep theology, but it also describes deep companionship. In so few words it says so much about what it is like to be pregnant, especially to be pregnant alongside someone experiencing the same. To be literally creating a life, but also to desire support and to support others. To think about the world in new ways, and to think more deeply about how the life inside you will change the world and require you to change your world. To possess both unique strength and unique vulnerabilities. To “proclaim the greatness of the Lord,” while also contending with nausea at random times throughout the day. To feel sore and tired, both in body and mind, but also to know that ours is a God who promises mercy forever and ever. Today’s Gospel reminds us that Mary remains with us now, encouraging us and continuing to intercede for us until it is our time to return home.

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