by Erik Ritland
The Word and the Church
Bible commentary following the Catholic Lectionary (which gives an overview of the entire Bible) by the Fully Alive staff
Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
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Zep. 3: 14-18A
Lk. 1: 39-56
The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin Elizabeth came alive for me when I began to do the Rosary. Until then it was simply a pious story, fine for what it was, but I never felt the full weight of its reality.
Even today, whenever I meditate on the Visitation – or any mystery of the Rosary – each event comes alive, just as it does in the liturgies that celebrate them. I imagine the reality of it, pregnant Mary packing her things and beginning her journey, depending on blessed St. Joseph for care and compassion, finally seeing her house in sight and knocking on the door, weary from travel. Then, finally, that blessed moment when they walk in the door and John the Baptist leaps in Elizabeth’s womb.
This coming Messiah, God as a real human being in the shelter of Mary’s womb, is a cause for the highest celebration, as the forerunner John the Baptist is the first to grasp. The first reading from the prophet Zephaniah emphasizes this:
Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
What will this Messiah do? Zephaniah continues:
The LORD has removed the judgment against you,
he has turned away your enemies;
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.
The people of Israel had endured misfortune and fear throughout their history. With the coming savior, God removes his judgment and turns away the enemies of his people. The most important enemies are sin and death, which Jesus deals with definitively in the cross.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician. He is the lead staff writer and podcast host of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, which features commentary on music, sports, and an intellectual ragbag. He was also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Curious North and Hometown Hustle. Reach him via email.
Erik Ritland received his MA in Theology in 2017. He's the founder and content manager of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, copy editor and writer for Music in Minnesota, and an acclaimed songwriter.