Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Visitation: The Revelation of Humanity at Conception

"In those days Mary arose and went with haste, into the hill country to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.  And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filed with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, 'Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!  And why is this granted me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?'  For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.  And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." - Luke 1:39-45

This might seem a bit out of place in the liturgical calendar, being that we are in Easter and not in Advent, but bear with me.  I have been reading Dr. Edward Sri's book
Dawn of the Messiah which goes through the infancy narratives of Luke and Matthew.  As we got to the above passage, Sri writes
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth has prophetic insight into the uniqueness of Mary's motherhood.  Not only does she realize that Mary is pregnant, but she understands hat Mary has become the mother of Israel's Messiah.  In awe over the mystery taking place in Mary's womb, Elizabeth, in extraordinary fashion, honors her younger kinswoman and acknowledges her as the 'mother of my Lord' and 'blessed ... among women.' (emphasis added)
As I was reading, some struck me like an anvil on my foot.  Elizabeth recognized the baby in Mary's womb.  Of course, most would be, like, duh, Kyle, of course.  Think about it though.  Mary was told that she would conceive and bear a son; this would occur when the Holy Spirit would overshadow her.  We understand this as occurring at the Annunciation.  Then it says, "In those days Mary arose and went with haste."  Another way to translate the Greek would "at that time" or even "on that day."  In any way, she left Nazareth soon after conception.  Being that Elizabeth lived in a town of Judah, Mary lived about 60 miles from her older cousin.  That would account for a few days travel.  At most, then, Mary was a few weeks pregnant when she arrived at the house Elizabeth.  She probably wasn't even showing, at least not enough for anyone to notice that she was pregnant, and yet, Elizabeth cries out in full faith, "Blessed is the fruit of your womb!  Who am I that the mother of my Lord."  Notice she doesn't say the one to be the mother of my Lord.  She speaks in the present tense.  

Fetus at Four Weeks
What does this have to do with anything?  Well, Jesus was just a few weeks old.  No more than about the size the fetus to the right.  And yet, both the child in Elizabeth's womb, who is not even cogent and reasoning yet, and Elizabeth herself recognize that the human nature and the divine person are present in their midst.  There is no questioning whether this is a human life or not.  There is no question whether the mass of tissue is worth anything.  It is worth everything.  This verse implicitly supports human life from conception on.  There would be no reason to give praise over a bunch of cells.  No, this was a divine person united to a human nature manifesting himself as Son of God and Son of Mary before there was little to no brain tissue.

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