“In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how (πόθεν, literally, from where) is this happening to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?...” (Lk 1: 39-43)
This joyful meeting of two friends, the young Mary, the Most Blessed Virgin, and Her much older relative Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, occurs right after the Annunciation; right after Mary was paid a visit by the Archangel Gabriel and gave Her consent to become the Mother of God. She does not keep the news to Herself, but goes “with haste” to tell it (not to Joseph!) to another woman, Elizabeth. But Elizabeth, who is also expecting a child at this point, doesn’t need to be told what has happened to Mary. She immediately knows, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” and becomes the first woman to recognize Mary, her young friend, as the Blessed Among Women and as “mother of my Lord.”
The Holy Spirit brings joy and mutual honor to this friendship. He brings the Most Blessed Virgin, on the one hand, to share “with haste” Her joy with Elizabeth; and He opens Elizabeth’s heart to see Her young friend for who She is, and to rejoice with Her.
Today as we celebrate the feast of the Protection of the Mother of God (OC), I am reminded to let the grace of the Holy Spirit into my friendships. It is His grace that makes me capable of sharing my joys and sorrows with my friends, and it is His grace that opens my heart to see and share theirs.
Today I let Her, Full of Grace, be my model and guide in grace-filled friendship. “Blessed are You among women,” I gratefully say to Her today, because She comes “with haste” and is indeed “among” us, when we are open to Her grace-filled friendship.