A “Jump” for Joy


 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 leapt 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 why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’

[Luke 1: 39-45]


Visitation (detail), Fra Angelico, 1433-34.


Two cousins. Two most unlikely pregnancies. Two mothers-to-be carrying sons whose birth announcements were telegraphed by angels. Two close confidants who share their prenatal joys and concerns with each other.

Young Mary couldn’t rely on Galilean cell phone reception to send a quick “how r u?” text message to Elizabeth, her older cousin who was also pregnant. Instead, she made the arduous journey to Judea to visit Elizabeth in person. Upon Mary’s arrival and hearing her voice, Elizabeth’s baby, who would be named John, reacts in a way that brings all expectant mothers an unexpected delight—a “jump” for joy.

In our digital age, this poignant story of sisterhood and hospitality reminds us that a rushed email, text message or Facebook post is no substitute for the joy of seeing a treasured friend or relative in person. Nor can it replicate the power of the human voice and touch—especially during important life passages, such as births and deaths.

Not only did the unwed Mary need a safe haven to await the birth of her son, the promised Savior, she and Elizabeth relied on each other to keep the faith that God is indeed using them in divine ways. Is there someone in your life to whom a visit is long overdue? Someone for whom a phone call is inadequate? Or is there a younger friend or acquaintance who could benefit from your mentoring and support?

May this holy advent season offer you opportunities both to reconnect with friends and family members and also to nurture new relationships —in person and in real time. Perhaps your heart—or someone else’s—will leap for joy!

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