When I was growing up, I was taught by my parent’s to treat my elders with respect and honor. If an adult asked me a question, I respond yes sir or no sir, or mam. I learned to be grateful for what others did for me saying thank you. Many of us grew up with being taught these lessons, andI’m sure you are teaching them as well to your children. We would get in trouble if we didn’t use these phrases or said something like yeah, or uh hun. I’ve heard this isn’t as widely practiced in other parts of the country but in the south,it is prevalent and expected that our children use words like yes mam and yes sir, and call adults Mr. andMs. Instead of just their first name.
As I reflect on how Elizabeth greeted Mary as she entered her home I begin to realize that her greeing is unusual. We are told Elizabeth is beyond child bearing years and our best guess as to Mary’s age is in her late teens to early 20s. Just imagine a school teacher, greeting one of her students in this way. It would be typical for Mary to show her older cousin respect, and honor but instead Elizabeth shows it to Mary instead.
The infant in Elizabeth’s womb too greets Mary with great respect as he literally jumps for joy in the womb of her mother. We know him as John the Baptist who would prepare the way of the Lord, and we too know that he is rejoicing in the presence of the Lord in the womb of Mary.
Elizabeth doesn’t just greet Mary in a typical way listen to what the Gospel tells us about Elizabeth’s greeting. Elizabeth cries out in a loud voice that phrase we know so well. There is an excitement to Mary coming in and she blesses Mary and the infant in her womb. It is also signifcant that the infant leaps in her womb not when Mary comes into the room, and therefore Jesus enters the room, rather the infant leaps when he hears the voice of Mary’s greeting. What the Gospel finally tells us is that these actions were inspired by the Holy Spirit.
What we see in this scene is the first verneration of the blessed virgin Mary. We all know that the Church greatly vernerates and shows respect to Mary. We don’t do this because we think she is equal to God, or that she along with our Lord are do the same worship, but rather we honor her because of who she was and how she said yes to bringing the savior into the world. What we see in the visitation is the first time Mary is honored as the Mother of God, not just by Elizabeth and the infant in her womb to but in a way God as well showed this respect and honor to Mary.
In a few days we will be celebrating Christmas and rightly praise and worship Jesus who became incarnate and became man so he can save us. However, don’t forget the importance of Mary to Christmas, it was her yes that brought our savior into the world. God made her a perfect dwelling place for our savior, and God gave her the grace to remain free from sin her entire life.
When we were children we were taught to show respect to our elders by saying yes sir or yes mam. We were taught to show be greatful to others by saying thank you. Being respectful is a major part of our lives especially here in South Louisiana. A major part of our faith as well is our devotion, honor and respect to the Blessed Virigin.
The way we are devoted to her, the way we ask her to pray for us, and show her respect is more than just a good gesture, more than just words that we say on a regular basis. Through God’s grace our devotion to the blessed virgin can be benificial in our lives of faith. The rosary can help make us more devoted to the blessed mother but I also believe it can help us immitate her more and more in our own lives. She gave a perfect yes to the will of God in our lives. Sometimes in our lives our yes doesn’t always mean yes, we may forget a promsie we made, we may say yes with our fingers crossed behind our backs because we really don’t want to do it. God calls us to be honest but most importantly when God calls us to something to respond generously to his call and say yes.
Mary as well remained sinless her entire life, we struggle with sin our own lives but Mary’s intercession can help us become more detached from sin. Finally being more devoted to Mary will not take away from our love and devotion to our Lord, because everything Mary does for us leads us to her son. As we prepare to enter Christmas may we seek to grow our devotion to the mother of the lord, so that through her guidance and example we can become more united to God, and follow Jesus more perfectly in our lives.