The Visit of the Blessèd Virgin Mary to Elizabeth

31 May -- Festival -- of the BVM -- White

The church today recalls the visit of Elizabeth to her cousin Mary, as recorded in Luke's gospel. The celebration of the feast first occurred at a Franciscan Order General Chapter in 1263 but quickly spread throughout Europe. Since it is a celebration clearly described in the gospel, the churches of the Reformation were less inclined to proscribe it as they were other Marian feasts, particularly as it was the occasion for Mary to sing her great hymn of praise in honour of her Lord and God. Just as Luke sees John the Baptist as the last of the prophets of the old covenant, he uses John's leaping in Elizabeth's womb as the first time John bears witness to Christ as the promised Messiah. Thereby he links the old covenant with the new. He seems to be saying that just as the old covenant clearly points to Jesus, so does its last prophet, yet to be born.

Collect

Almighty God,
by whose grace Elizabeth rejoiced with Mary
and greeted her as the mother of the Lord:
look with favour on your lowly servants
that, with Mary, we may magnify your holy name
and rejoice to acclaim her Son our Saviour,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

A reading from the prophecy of Zephaniah.

Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak. The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it.

This is the word of the Lord.         Zephaniah 3. 14-18

Responsorial Psalm

RSing aloud, O daughter Zion!
[rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerus
alem!] Alleluia! Give praise, you servants of the Lord;
praise the name of the Lord.
Let the name of the Lord be blessed,
from this time forth for evermore. R

From the rising of the sun to its going down
let the name of the Lord be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens. R

Who is like the Lord our God, who sits enthroned on high,
but stoops to behold the heavens and the earth?
He takes up the weak out of the dust
and lifts up the poor from the ashes. R

He sets them with the princes,
with the princes of his people.
He makes the woman of a childless house
to be a joyful mother of children. Alleluia! R         From Psalm 113

A reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans.

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.

This is the word of the Lord.         Romans 12. 9-16

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke.

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, "Blessèd are you among women, and blessèd 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 leaped for joy. And blessèd is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord."

And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessèd; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name." ["His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."

And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.]

This is the gospel of Christ.         Luke 1. 39-49 [50-56]

Post Communion

Gracious God,
who gave joy to Elizabeth and Mary
as they recognised the signs of redemption
   at work within them:
help us, who have shared in the joy of this eucharist,
to know the Lord deep within us
and his love shining out in our lives,
that the world may rejoice in your salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.