“Blessed are you…” (Luke 1:41).
Mary comes down from the north country to visit Elizabeth. The Visitation, like other accounts in the birth narratives of Luke and Matthew, is more theology than history, but it reveals better than history the intensity and depth of the faith the evangelists tried to convey in the post-Resurrection churches they wrote for. The canticles proclaimed by Zechariah and Mary echo the song of Hannah in Samuel and the prophecies of Isaiah. The scene of Mary’s arrival to the town in Judah where her pregnant relative lived repeats the vibrant story from 2 Samuel when King David danced ecstatically before the Ark of the Covenant as it arrived in Jerusalem. For Luke, Mary is that precious Ark carrying God’s presence. John the Baptist, in utero, is David dancing for joy before it. Jesus will extend the song and dance of God’s entry into the world when, 30 years later, he proclaims from the scroll of Isaiah in his hometown synagogue at Nazareth: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, anointing me to bring good news to the poor” (Isa 61, Luke 4). Many voices, one song.
The promise makes seamless the biblical chorus stretching from David to Jesus, from Jesus to us. It encompasses the two Covenants, Hebrew and Christian, into a single revelation about human history and the promise of universal salvation. Time recedes and everything happens at the same time, prophecy upon prophecy, song within song, to make the glory of Christmas come true in our hearing.