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Lutheran Aardvark

Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education, and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer

31 May 2006
  The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
31 May, New Testament

Elizabeth Greets MaryThis day commemorates the joyous visit Mary paid to her cousin Elizabeth, following The Annunciation. Inspired by the amazing news that she was to become the mother of the Christ and in response to the joyous word that her old and previously barren cousin was also pregnant, she joined her older cousin during Elizabeth's sixth month of pregnancy (see Luke 1:39-56).

After Mary declared the wondrously good news, Elizabeth responded to the Blessed Virgin, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! ... Behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. (vv. 42, 44)" She concluded by giving full credit and glory to God while also commending her young cousin's hearty faith: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord. (v. 45)"

Mary responded with the Magnificat, the beautiful song of praise beginning, "My soul magnifies the Lord. (vv. 46-55)" It's not clear whether Mary stayed there until after the birth of John or if she left immediately beforehand; Luke merely said that the Virgin "remained with her about three months and returned to her home. (v. 56)"

And so, as we encounter God sending the Forerunner and the Messiah into the world, we see a study in contrasts. Two women stand before each other. One seemingly too old to bear children now carries the final prophet of the Old Covenant. The other, youthful and as yet unwed — completely unprepared in the eyes of the world — carries the One who brings both the Advent and the Fulfillment of the New Testament. And again we see, in the fullness of time, one age passing away while another age begins — an age that has no end but which lasts unto eternity.

Lection
Psalm 138
Isaiah 11:1-5
Romans 12:9-16
Luke 1:39-56

Collect
Almighty God, as You dealt wonderfully with Your servant, the Blessed Virgin Mary, in choosing her to be the mother of Your dearly beloved Son and thus graciously made known Your regard for the poor and lowly and despised, grant us grace in all humility and meekness to receive Your Word with hearty faith and to rejoice in Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

The Magnificat
My soul magnifies the Lord,
   and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
   for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
   for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
   and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
   from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
   he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
   and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
   and the rich he has sent empty away.
He has helped his servant Israel,
   in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
   to Abraham and to his offspring forever.

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