The Old Testament shows the prefigurement of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. In 2 Samuel, Uzzah is struck dead for touching the ark of the covenant and David feels unworthy to bring the ark to Jerusalem. So, David takes the ark to the house of Obed-Edom where the ark remained for three months. While the ark was there the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and all his household. David recognizes that Obed-Edom is blessed because of the ark and knows he can now bring the ark to Jerusalem.
"...The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and all that belongs to him because of the ark of God..."
This story parallels Mary's visit to Elizabeth because just as the ark stayed with Obed-Edom for three months, Mary stays with Elizabeth for three months.
The Church calls Mary the new Ark of the Covenant because she carried God within her womb. The Visitation shows us that when Mary visits, you will be blessed. Fr. John Echert, who answers questions on EWTN, says that tradition teaches us that John the Baptist is cleansed from original sin when he leaps in the womb upon Mary's arrival to Elizabeth. This is why Jesus proclaimed of John the Baptist;
"I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."
It got me thinking about Marian apparitions. Mary still comes to visit us. She still wants to purify us through her Son. In pondering just a few apparitions, from Guadalupe, to Fatima, to Medjugorje, Mary has come to visit us. She always brings a message beckoning us to her Son.
In Guadalupe, Mexico, Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego in 1531, saying about Jesus: "I will give Him to the people in all my personal love, in my compassion, in my help, in my protection: because I am truly your merciful Mother, yours and all the people who live united in this land and of all the other people of different ancestries, my lovers, who love me, those who seek me, those who trust in me..."
At Fatima on June 13, 1917, she said: "My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God..."
And in Medjugorje, on May 2, 2019 she said: "Dear children, with a motherly love I am calling you to respond to the great love of my Son, with pure and open hearts, with complete trust. I know the greatness of His love. I carried Him within me, the Host in the heart, the light and love of the world..."
What we see when Mary visits us is a Mother united to her Son, imploring us to know Him, to pray, to repent and to turn back to God. We should all bring Mary into our homes like Elizabeth did, like John did:
When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, "Woman, here is your son." Then He said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." So, from that hour, this disciple took her into his home.
We can learn from Mary's guidance in John 2:5: "Do whatever He tells you." Uzzah did not obey the command of the Lord. It brought death. Mary, as the ark, always implores us to obey her Son so that we may flourish. The Visitation shows us Mary as a guidepost to living a life of holiness. When Mary visits, may our hearts leap for joy and may our households be blessed.
Susan Skinner lives in Tennessee with her husband and three children. She is a teacher of Adult RCIA and the Faith Formation Coordinator for her parish. She is also the author of a popular Catholic blog, "The Veil of Veronica."