Twice in two days, the Lectionary has given us the Visitation story from Luke’s gospel as our daily bread from scripture at Mass. So, what’s my response: to rush right through the all-too-familiar tale?
Or might it be more fruitful to pause for a moment, and peer into the story from a slightly different angle?
Say, perhaps, to consider the story from the perspective of John’s consciousness, in-utero.
He was stirred into motion, we are told, by the mere presence of his cousin and Lord drawing near from inside Mary’s womb.
John leapt for joy because Jesus was near.
It’s a fascinating detail, in part because it involved none of the usual senses: John did not – could not – see, hear or touch Jesus. Still, he knew something special was happening in that moment.
As for myself, I often find that my senses are overloaded in these last days before Christmas: too many seasonal sights, sounds and tastes all at once, far more than my mind and heart can take in and savor.
And into this frantic flurry – the hallmark of a culture too busy to bother with what lies beyond the senses – the Christ child makes something of an infrared ultrasonic hypostatic appearance, two days straight in the gospel I hear at Mass.
Which begs the question: Can I slow myself down even a tad…so that I’m prepared to encounter what the pre-born John the Baptist experienced there in the hill country outside Galilee?
Am I ready to leap for joy at hearing this Good News: ‘And they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”’
Mary set out in those days
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.