Mary’s May Crowning: Part 2

This is the second part of a series that will follow the biblical story of Mary throughout May. To honor her during her month, we are diving deeper into eight key mysteries of the Rosary offering reflections on the Blessed Mother’s role through the Gospels and New Testament.

Need to catch up? You can find the other parts of the series here.

The Visitation

After the Annunciation, Mary arises “with haste” (Lk 1:39) to visit Elizabeth, who greets her with familiar words: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Lk 1:42).

 St. Luke then depicts Mary’s journey in a manner reminiscent of David’s bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem in 2 Sam 6. Such a parallel would be enormously significant, since the Ark was the holiest object in all of Israel—made holy because it bore the very presence of God; overlaid with gold (Ex 25:11), it held the Ten Commandments, a jar that held the manna, and Aaron’s high priestly rod (cf. Heb 9:4). Likewise, Mary bears Jesus who is the Word of God Incarnate, the bread of life, and eternal high priest.

Moreover, the following parallels in both journeys emerge: David and Mary “arose and went” (2 Sam 6:2; Lk 1:39); David leaps before the ark, as John leaps in the womb of Elizabeth (2 Sam 6:16b; Lk 1:41); David asks, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me” (2 Sam 6:9), as Elizabeth asks how can “the mother of my Lord come to me?” (Lk 1:43); the Ark remains at the house of Obed-edom three months (2 Sam 6:11), just as Mary remained at the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth three months (Lk 1:56).

It’s hard to overstate what these parallels would mean: no Jew in the ancient world could have proclaimed his love for God and yet been indifferent to the Ark.

And just in case we missed it, St. Luke uses a very rare word in Lk 1:42 to describe how Elizabeth “exclaimed” (anaphoneo) such praises before Mary. This Greek word occurs only here in the New Testament, and only five times in the entire Greek Old Testament—every single time with reference to Levites praising the Ark of the Covenant (cf. 1 Chron 15:28; 16:4, 5, 42; 2 Chron 5:13; cf. Hahn, Kingdom of God as Liturgical Empire, 65). The reference, then, is unmistakable: here we have once again a Levite—in Elizabeth (cf. Lk 1:5)—praising the Ark of the New Covenant.

Mary is revered for what God has done in and through her; but she is also called “blessed” for her great faith: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lk 1:45).

Read Luke 1:39-56

You may also enjoy Mary: A Biblical Walk with the Blessed Mother.

 

Painting by Jerónimo Ezquerra, sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

 

Dr. Andrew Swafford

Andrew Swafford is associate professor of theology at Benedictine College, where he regularly teaches courses on Scripture and the Christian moral life. He holds a doctorate in sacred theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake and a master’s degree in Old Testament & Semitic Languages from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is author of Spiritual Survival in the Modern World: Insights from C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters; John Paul II to Aristotle and Back Again: A Christian Philosophy of Life; and Nature and Grace: A New Approach to Thomistic Resourcement. He is a contributing author to Letter & Spirit Volume 11; Divinization: Becoming Icons of Christ through the Liturgy; 30-Second Bible: The 50 Most Meaningful Moments in the Bible; and I Choose God: Stories from Young Catholics. Andrew is also a senior fellow at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. He lives with his wife Sarah and their four children in Atchison, Kansas.