Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women, you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’
difficulties which arose when Joseph became aware of her pregnancy were behind her, and the drama and dangers associated with the birth of Jesus were not yet on the horizon. Elizabeth was the perfect soulmate, as she too had been called by God to carry a special child who would be inextricably linked to Mary’s child for all time.
Mary and Elizabeth for a short time were able to live together in an oasis of peace, free to share their thoughts and hopes and to enjoy each other’s company. They were able to put aside the demands of their daily lives in order to give time to deeper issues and to enjoy each other’s company.
Mary’s visit to Elizabeth provides a model for the Christmas holidays. People come together over the Christmas break in combinations and in locations where they are not normally together. That may mean family or friends assembling at home or in a holiday spot, often after not having seen one another for some time. There will be plenty of preparation involving food and things needed for various activities. Depending on family relationships, this time-out from work and the daily routine will be eagerly anticipated or dreaded.
In the ideal gathering of friends and family there will be joyous moments of recognition and re-uniting, sharing of thoughts and activities, getting to know one another again, just as there was for Mary and Elizabeth.
This scenario does not always come about without some interior preparation. For our Christmas holiday “visitation” to be a time of peace and unity it may be necessary to leave behind some baggage rather than taking it with us when we meet up with family and friends.
Some things may need to be forgiven and put aside. A desire to always call the shots among the group, or a reaction to another who does the same, may need to be let go. Subconciously or consciously trying to outdo others in any way other than beach cricket may need to be recognized and dealt with. Some of us who spend the year as organizers of others may need to learn to “go with the flow” on holiday. These types of baggage can weigh down our holiday with tension and discord.
Tolerance, forgiveness and humility will help the Christmas holiday break to be as peace-filled and restorative as Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. And if we have dealt with the negative emotions beforehand, there may even be some joyous moments when our hearts leap with joy as we recognize Christ in our midst.