In today’s gospel, Elisabeth’s infant son apparently knew something special was going on before the rest of them. Little John, from the comfort of his womb-home, expressed delight at hearing Mary’s voice – even though he had never met her before. And he did so in a way that only his mother could understand.
Fortunately for us, Elizabeth explained this encounter with the Theotokos that was occurring at that special moment. A visit from a relative, which might otherwise have been quite ordinary, turned out to be something extraordinary. A fulfillment of history – promises made long ago, as reported by Zephaniah – was being revealed in this ordinary setting. But a little baby, not yet even born, would know it first.
We have always believed that God was near to our little ones, even in the womb. When new life enters the world, we are full of wonder as we see them for the first time. The economy of Heaven often allows the love and generosity of God to be revealed through our little ones, who teach us even as we are supposed to be teaching them. God often comes to us in the ordinary stuff of which life is made, but sometimes we are too busy to notice. And sometimes, we lapse into the wrong way of thinking, in which others become a burden and threat to our autonomy and independence. This is short-sighted and wrong, but it is part of our broken humanity.
I am glad that Elizabeth welcomed Mary, and that she was so attentive toward little John. I am sure that this changed the nature of that three-month visit to her home. Perhaps we can learn from her example and become more aware of the gifts God is sending our way, even in the mundane stuff of life.