The Word comes to us. The Word came to Elizabeth. The Word Incarnate came first to Mary and Mary brought the Word to Elizabeth. As St. Ambrose so beautifully explains, when Mary comes to Elizabeth there was a human and divine connection. An immediate connection of humanity between Mary and Elizabeth and a divine connection between Jesus and John. Isn’t this how it happens for us also? First, a human connection is made followed by the divine connection as Elizabeth is then filled with the Holy Spirit.
When the angel, Gabriel, comes to Mary she is filled with the Holy Spirit and then conceives Jesus. There are different kinds of conception. In the Incarnation, Jesus is physically conceived inside of Mary. When the Holy Spirit comes to Elizabeth, she is filled with the Holy Spirit she becomes something more and different than she was before. This is what happens for all of us when we are baptized. We are filled with the Holy Spirit and we are transformed, we become adopted sons and daughters of God. I don’t remember my baptism way back in April of 1967 and yet, I was changed that day, I was marked with the sign of Christ, I was set aside to be his herald.
When Mary is filled with the Holy Spirit, she does not sit back and wow, look at me and wait for others to come to her. She goes out to visit Elizabeth, whom the angel had told her would conceive in her old age. This miracle of God’s grace pouring out on Elizabeth is a matter of great rejoicing.
John is the first to be aware of the grace being bestowed in the encounter and he leaps with joy. I remember times in my life when the grace of God came so strongly that I was filled with joy, how I leaped, how I cried, how I knew my life would be forever changed. Like, John, I must be a herald, I must be ready to bring the news of Christ to others, to bring them knowledge of salvation. We are all called to bring that knowledge to others, it is our call as baptized Christians. We are to go out and visit as ministers of the New Covenant.
In 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 we read, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ and manifests through us the odor of the knowledge of him in every place. For we are the aroma of Christ for God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing”.
We are not Christ, we are not the Messiah but we are the aroma, that delightful smell that draws people in. Jesus delighted in John, he delights in each one of us. Let us then go out with joy to be that delightful aroma that draws others to God.