Friends, today’s Gospel tells the marvelous story of the Visitation. At the Annunciation, the angel had told Mary that the child to be conceived in her would be the new David.
With that magnificent prophecy still ringing in her ears, Mary set out to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was married to Zechariah, a temple priest. No first-century Jew would have missed the significance of their residence being “in the hill country of Judah.” That was precisely where David found the ark, the bearer of God’s presence. To that same hill country now comes Mary, the definitive and final Ark of the Covenant.
Elizabeth is the first to proclaim the fullness of the Gospel: “How does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”—the Lord, which is to say, the God of Israel. Mary brings God into the world, thus making it, at least in principle, a temple.
And then Elizabeth announces that at the sound of Mary’s greeting, “the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” This is the unborn John the Baptist doing his version of David’s dance before the Ark of the Covenant, his great act of worship of the King.