Editor's note: This Advent season, we are blessed to have a series of beautiful reflections by our own Marge Fenelon. For more spiritual support and encouragement, please check out Marge's beautiful book Imitating Mary as the perfect gift for yourself or a loved one this holiday season! LMH
When I was younger, I used to think that Mary's visit to Elizabeth was nothing more than a trek across town. I'd picture Mary with her little wicker basket filled with goodies (Little Red Riding Hood style) fa-la-laing over the streets of the town and to her cousin's house. There, she'd politely knock on the door, and Elizabeth would open it and welcome her in with great big smiles all around.
Well, the smiles were probably the only part of that scenario that I had right. I have no doubt that Mary and Elizabeth were ecstatic to see each other, and who could help but smile at a moment like that? However, Mary's trip was not in any way a simple trek across town; rather it was a difficult journey over seventy miles of dangerous terrain through pathways that were perpetually preyed upon by bandits.
She likely traveled with the caravan and probably rode on a donkey or camel. She might have ridden on a wagon of some kind. Now, add to all of that the fact that Mary was in her first trimester of pregnancy – when most women are experiencing morning sickness and fatigue – and the fact that the trip took days, not minutes or hours. Indeed, it was a difficult journey.
Mary could have made excuses. She could've told the Angel that in her "delicate condition," she wouldn't be able to make the trip. She could have sent word to Elizabeth that she would be happy to help her out some other time.
But she didn't. She "went in haste" (Lk 1:39), putting her life aside in order to serve her cousin.
And what life was she putting aside? Remember that she was in the middle of heartache and distress because her relationship with Joseph was on the rocks. She was pregnant and it was not the son of her betrothed; he was considering divorcing her. She had reason to fear for her safety, since women caught in adultery in that day and age were stoned to death.
On top of all that, she was a young woman – a young pregnant woman – traveling all alone on a risky trip. Yet, Mary put all of that into God's hands and did what she needed to do.
What do we need to do this Advent? Are we being called to service of some kind but make excuses for ourselves because we fear it will cost too much? Do we automatically refuse favors because we think were just too busy, especially during this time of year?
In these days of quiet waiting for the Savior, perhaps we can meditate on Mary's attitude of service and see how, in at least some small way, we can come out of ourselves and be of service to others. If we ask Mary, she will help us.
Copyright 2013 Marge Fenelon
About the Author
Marge Steinhage Fenelon is a wife, mother, award-winning author and journalist, retreat leader, internationally-know speaker, podcaster, and Catholic media personality. She's author of the best-selling Our Lady, Undoer of Knots: A Living Novena, award-winning My Queen, My Mother: A Marian Pilgrimage Across America, Forgiving Mother: A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace and other books on Marian devotion and Catholic spirituality. Learn more at MargeFenelon.com.