Mary visits Elizabeth

The Visitation
Church of the Visitation in Ein Karem, Israel

Luke 1:39-45:

About that time Mary set out and went straight to a town in the uplands of Judah.  She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth.  And when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby stirred in her womb.

Then Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and cried aloud, “God’s blessing is on you above all women, and his blessing is on the fruit of your womb.  Who am I, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?  I tell you, when your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby in my womb leapt for joy.  How happy is she who has had faith that the Lord’s promise would be fulfilled.”

Uplands:  Where were the uplands of Judah? *

Thoughts: on parenting — Donna Ross

Years ago, I visited a woman a woman named Mary once every month. Indeed, Mary became one of my most treasured friends – indeed, she became my spiritual mother.

Mary was a Sister in the Roman Catholic order of Notre Dame de Namur, and had served as a teacher in East Africa. When she returned to the States, she continued serving others as a spiritual director.

A spiritual director learns to listen on many levels. There are the spoken words of the person who has come to share his or her life. There are the silent thoughts of the spiritual director herself, rising up in response to what the other person is saying. And finally, there is the voice of the Holy Spirit, who is moving in the hearts of both persons. Indeed, the Spirit has brought these two persons together — and both have come together to listen to what the Spirit has to say.

My friend Mary often compared spiritual direction to Luke’s story of the Visitation. In every visitation one person, led by the Spirit, seeks out another person to hear a word of wisdom — and then the Spirit moves between the two.

Just so, in Luke’s story Mary has been inspired to seek out Elizabeth, her older cousin; and Elizabeth, when she hears her cousin’s voice, is inspired to bless Mary and strengthen her faith in God’s leading.

Parents, whether physical or spiritual, learn to listen to their children on many levels. (There is the sharp cry of a hungry baby — will milk be comfort enough? Or will a parent’s arms give comfort even more lasting than food?)

Who in your life hears your stories, tries to hear the Spirit’s voice for you, and then offers you words of comfort and wisdom?

The baby stirs in Elizabeth’s womb
Society of the Holy Child Jesus

* Uplands of Judah

The heart of Judah (Judaea) was the upper hill country, known as Har Yehuda (“Hills of Judaea”), extending south from the region of Bethel (at present-day Ramallah) to Beersheba and including the area of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron.

The hill country of Judea
(abandoned Palestinian homes after the 1967 war)


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