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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[Luke 1:39–56]

MARY, rising up in those days, went with haste into the hill-country to visit and congratulate her cousin Elizabeth. No sooner did Mary enter the house than Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Ghost, cried out: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? Blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.”

 

Fig. 62. St. John in the Mountains. (Phot. Bonfils.)

Whereupon Mary exclaimed: “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid; for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty hath done great things to me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is from generation unto generation, to them that fear Him. He hath shown might with His arm: He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath upholden Israel His servant, being mindful of His mercy. As He spoke to our fathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.” Mary abode with her cousin about three months; then she returned to Nazareth.

The Divinity of Jesus Christ. Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Ghost, testified to the Divinity of Jesus when she called Mary the Mother of God; for, if Mary is the Mother of God, her Son must be God.

Mary is the Mother of God. The Holy Ghost has called her so by the mouth of Elizabeth.

The dignity of the Mother of God is inconceivably high, for, as Mother of God, Mary is nearer than any other creature, nearer even than the highest angel, to the Blessed Trinity. Mary, being nearest of all creatures to God, who is the source of all dignity and grace, holds the highest place amongst all creatures in the kingdom of God, and is the Queen of all Saints.

Veneration of the Mother of God. In the Magnificat Mary said prophetically: “From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” This prophecy has been fulfilled in the Catholic Church, for our holy Church honours our Lady by special feasts and special devotions. How would it be possible not to pay honour to her whom God raised to such a high dignity, and praised in such a manner by the mouths of Gabriel and Elizabeth! Our veneration of the holy Mother of God is well founded both on Holy Scripture and on reason.

It is on account of her Divine Son that we honour Mary. When the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of Elizabeth, said: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb (Jesus)”, He testified to the close connexion that lies between the veneration of the Mother and the worship of the Son. It is because Mary is the Mother of God that she is so full of grace, and entitled to the love and veneration of all who love and worship Jesus; and all the honour which we pay to her, returns to her Divine Son. On the other hand, those who despise and depreciate Mary depreciate thereby our Lord Jesus Christ. The Church has added St. Elizabeth’s words (Blessed is the fruit of thy womb) to the Angelical Salutation, to prove that the veneration of Mary is inseparable from the veneration and worship of Jesus Christ.

Mary, a pattern of charity. Why did Mary hasten to visit her cousin? She loved retirement, communion with God, and solitude; so it must have been a grave reason which made her leave her retired home and undertake a long journey. What were her reasons? Firstly, the angel had referred her to Elizabeth, although she had believed his words without asking for a sign. She therefore believed it to be God’s will that she should visit her cousin, and convince herself of the truth of the sign given her, i. e. that Elizabeth was about to have a son. Secondly, Mary knew well that her cousin had grieved for many years on account of being childless, and she knew how happy she must be now that the cause of her grief was removed. Mary’s loving heart sympathised with the happiness of her cousin; she desired to wish her joy, rejoice with her, and join her in praising God’s mercy. He who really loves his neighbour has a loving sympathy with his joys and sorrows. Thirdly, Mary, as the holy Fathers teach, wished to minister to her cousin, and help her in her household affairs.

Prompt service. Mary went to Elizabeth in haste, because her loving sympathy and desire to be of assistance impelled her to go to her cousin with as little delay as possible. Her example teaches us that we should never be dilatory in the performance of any good work. Let us never put off till to-morrow what we can do to-day.

The humility of Mary. Although Mary was the Mother of God, she hastened to visit her cousin, to congratulate her and minister to her. And when Elizabeth received her so reverently, and praised her as the Mother of God, Mary called herself God’s handmaid, and gave all the glory to Him, magnifying His power, His mercy and His truth.

The Magnificat. Our Lady’s canticle of praise is called the “Magnificat”, because in Latin it begins with that word. This canticle of praise is always sung at Vespers, and we ought to join in it with devotion and joy, in thanksgiving to God for the gift of His Son, and for all the great graces of Redemption.

Humility in receiving Holy Communion. Elizabeth was quite right to consider it a great and undeserved honour that the Mother of her Lord should enter her house. How much greater and more undeserved is the grace which is given to us of receiving our Lord Himself into our hearts in Holy Communion! Then, indeed, we ought to think and say: “Whence is this that my Lord and my God should come to me.”

APPLICATION. Cherish a filial love and veneration for the most Blessed Mary, Virgin and Mother of God. Say devoutly in her honour such prayers as the Litany of Loreto &c, and frequent all devotions practised in her honour.








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