Image Above Made by Luca della Robbia. See Artway.ea
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘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 leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’ (Luke 1:39-45 NRSV).
The Visitation is an excellent narrative to lead us into contemplation of what is written in Chapter 53:1 in The Rule of Saint Benedict. “Let all guests be received as Christ..” Following Mary’s experience of the Angel Gabriel announcing that she would be the Mother of the Incarnate Word, she leaves to visit with Elizabeth. When Mary greets Elizabeth the child in her womb who is John the Baptist leaps for joy. Elizabeth and her child knew the experience of Christ coming to them through Mary. Jesus though He had barely been conceived in the womb of Mary was so real to Elizabeth and John the Baptist that their lives were changed with a joy that needed no words.
The Visitation story is also a great way to meditate on what Abba James said. “It is better to receive hospitality than to give it.” When Mary arrived to visit Elizabeth, the experience Elizabeth had within her, came from receiving Mary in hospitality and being received in hospitality by Jesus present in Mary.
In her book Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seeker’s of Light, Sr. Joan Chittister on the topic of Lectio Divina wrote,
“Contemplation is not a private devotion; it is a way of life. It changes the way we think. It shapes the way we live. It challenges the way we talk and where we go and what we do. We do not “contemplate” or “not contemplate.” We live the contemplative life.”
The experience of Jesus receiving us, invites us to receive Him in a profound moment of conversion. It is a way of life that leads us to seeking a deeper union with the God-life who has entered into our human condition and reclaimed us as holy unto God. Jesus invites us into the mystery of this holy way of life to accept Him and respond with the joy that leaps within our true selves that gives us new life and in turn “renews the face of the earth” in the Holy Spirit.
“Realize above all that you are in God’s presence, and stand there with the attitude of one who stands before the emperor. Empty yourself completely and sit waiting, content with the grace of God, like the chick who tastes nothing and eats nothing but what his mother brings him” (From the short Rule of St. Romuald).
What change are you experiencing within yourself as Christ is coming to you today?
Peace be with all who enter here.
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB
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