Mary set out in those daysand traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit. Luke 1
Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, the distance is about a four-day journey on foot. Mary is in haste out of joy and wonder. It is a joy and wonder that will issue in praise of the dawn of universal salvation. And when the child in Mary's womb comes near to the infant John in Elizabeth's womb, Elizabeth cries out in praise and prophecy, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Mary has set out and traveled in haste, all because love and joy have put a liveliness in her step.
This phrase that describes how Mary goes to visit Elizabeth is the very phrase used by Saint Benedict in chapter 43 of his Rule to describe how a monk on hearing the signal for an hour of the Work of God will go to the church. He will “immediately set aside what he has in hand and go with utmost haste, yet with gravity and without giving occasion for frivolity.” The love of God must so animate the hearts of Benedict's monks that they move with a liveliness, an urgency, joy and wonder like Mary’s. Lovers do not walk towards each other, they run. So the monks go with utmost haste to praise the Lord at the Work of God.
As Christmas fast approaches, we go in haste with the shepherds, our hearts renewed in love, joy and wonder, as we seek Mary and Joseph and the Infant lying in the manger.
The Visitation by Giotto. Meditation by Father Luke.