Editor’s note: Today, we’re thrilled to welcome a guest contribution from friend of the site and noted author Denise Bossert. We congratulation Denise on the publication of her beautiful new book Gifts of the Visitation: Nine Spiritual Encounters with Mary and Elizabeth. Please consider making this lovely resource a part of your Easter season reading. Lisa
This same scenario has played out over and over in every generation. But this time, it was different.
Every woman thinks about which friend she will tell first when the pregnancy test is positive, but this woman had to travel eighty miles to share the news. And she didn’t have a car. And she didn’t have a phone. And she had not taken a home-pregnancy test. An archangel broke the news to her.
Women throughout time have rushed to another woman, an older woman with experience, to talk about the changes that pregnancy brings, to share the joys and to dream together about what their children will look like and who they will become. But there has never been a woman this young to go to a woman so old in order to share their pregnancies with one another.
They were the first Catholic moms—because theirs was the first Christ-centered friendship in salvation history.
After the Annunciation, Mary set her eyes on Elizabeth’s home in Ein Kerem and the determined young mother made the journey on her own two feet by the power of the Holy Spirit. This news was too good. This news was too wonderful. They had waited for this baby for thousands of years.
And as the Blessed Virgin Mary walked those eighty miles, she reflected on the events of salvation history, all that God had done to prepare them—to prepare her—for this little life who was and is the Lord of Life. The Old Covenant was replete with miraculous stories that paved the way for this little boy.
A donkey talked.
A hand wrote prophetic words on a wall.
Lions’ mouths were sealed.
A chariot of fire descended.
City walls fell.
A river turned to blood.
Time turned backward.
A giant was taken down by a small boy.
The earth quaked. Fire raged. Wind blew.
And a still small voice whispered.
That same voice had whispered again. And Mary rushed along the hills of Samaria, the Jordan River Valley, the hills of Judea. Eighty miles, she crossed, with great haste …
To do the one thing we must all do … to share the message that Jesus Christ has come.
Women get it. They get it all so completely. They have little difficulty imagining those three months, as the two women shared their lives, their pregnancies, their unborn sons with one another. They can envision it all, how the two women prepared meals, reminisced about profound moments of salvation history, wiped away tears of wonder & awe & joy.
Women totally get it.
Well, they get most of it.
But who can really grasp what it was like for Mary to cross the threshold of Elizabeth’s home? Who can truly fathom what it meant when the New Eve embraced the mother of the prophet who had been foretold in the final verses of the last chapter of the last book of the Old Testament? Who can grasp what it meant that something old was embracing something new?
And the world would never be the same because of it.
Catholic women come closest to understanding what this means. They understand I Timothy 2:15, how women are saved through childbearing. This childbearing, Mary’s childbearing—and the path to holiness and sanctification that we, too, can find when we emulate the holy motherhood of two women in the Gospel of St. Luke, chapter one.
We know what it means to die to self so that a child can live.
We know that no cost is too high. We know that we are called to nurture and protect this little one. We know that it is our highest calling. And it is pure gift. Oh, but not so much a mother’s gift to the child.
It is the child’s gift of life that to the mother. She is the one who feels blessed.
And when the child is the Christ Child, the Motherhood becomes the mothering of all people—beginning with an unlikely mothering. A young woman receives an old woman. An unborn St. John the Baptist leaps for joy.
The Mother of God has just visited Elizabeth and embraced something old in order to usher in something new.
This is The Visitation. This is where evangelization begins.
It is quite simply the sharing and bearing of Jesus Christ to another.
And yes, women get it.
It is like being pregnant and everything we are and everything we do is for the little one, the gift.
Denise Bossert writes a syndicated column, Catholic by Grace, for diocesan newspapers across the United States. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English education at the University of Dubuque (1989) and a master’s degree in literature from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (2001). She taught literature at the primary, secondary, and college levels. She and her husband, John, have four children and five grandchildren and live in New Melle, Missouri.
Copyright 2015 Denise Bossert