The Rosary,” wrote Blessed Pope John Paul II, “precisely because it starts with Mary’s own experience, is an exquisitely contemplative prayer. Without this contemplative dimension, it would lose its meaning.”
Pope Paul VI wrote that “without [this contemplation,] the Rosary is a body without a soul, and its recitation is in danger of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas and of going counter to the warning of Christ: ‘And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words’ (Mt 6:7).’”
Because of this, it is vital that Christians familiarize themselves with the Scriptures in order to meditate on the mysteries of the life of Christ.
The Visitation (Luke 1:39-56)
Having said yes to God’s plan, Mary then “went with haste” (Lk 1:39) to visit her cousin Elizabeth, of whom the angel Gabriel said was now in her six month of pregnancy (Lk 1:36).
In recounting this event, Luke “intentionally sets up the subtle but significant parallels between Mary’s visitation with Elizabeth and Davids effort to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem narrated in 2 Sam 6.”
In doing so, Luke reveals Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant. Just as the Ark of the old Covenant contained the manna, Aarons rod and the tables of the covenant (Heb 9:4) so it’s antitype, the Virgin Mary contained within her womb, not the mana but the bread of life (Jn 6:35), not a symbol of the first high priest but the new high priest (Heb 4:14) and not the word of God inscribed in stone but the word of God himself (Jn 1:14).
Here are the parallels which Luke sets up:
|Golden Chest: Ark of the Old Covenant||Mary: Ark of the New Covenant|
|David “arose and went” into the Judean hill country to retrieve the Ark (2 Sam. 6:2)||Mary “arose and went” into the same region to visit Elizabeth (Luke 1:39).|
|Dressed in a linen ephod (a priestly garment), David leapt in before the ark (2 Sam. 6:14).||John the Baptist – of priestly lineage (Luke 1:5,13) – leapt in his Elizabeth’s womb in the presence of Mary (Luke 1:41).|
|David asks, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” (2 Sam. 6:9).||Elizabeth asks, “Why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43).|
|David brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouting (2 Sam. 6:15).||Elizabeth “exclaimed with a loud cry” in the presence of the Mary (Luke 1:42).|
|The ark remained in the house of Obed-edom for three months (2 Sam. 6:11).||Mary remained in the house of Elizabeth for three months (Luke 1:56).|
|The house of O’bed-e’dom was blessed by the presence of the ark (2 Sam. 6:11).||Elizabeth uses the word “blessed” three at the arrival of Mary. (Luke 1:42,45).|
This mystery inspires Christians to humble service. Just as Mary, now the mother of God, did not consider herself too important to serve – which she apparently did for the remaining three months of Elizabeths pregnancy (Luke 1:36,56), so we too should be willing to serve, magnifying the Lord (Lk 1:46) as Mary did.
Read my “1st joyful mystery” meditation here.
1 Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 107 s.v. “Mary, Ark of the Covenant.”