4. Maryam with the Wife of Zachariya

At the annunciation to Maryam, the angel Gabriel (Jibril) had also told her of the pregnancy of her cousin, the wife of Zachariya, Elizabeth – it is in the Gospel. Maryam thus felt impelled to go visit her cousin. The Koran does not actually recount this episode that rejoices many women but which men have trouble to represent to themselves. It makes only a distant allusion to it: “‘O Yahya [John, the son of Elizabeth] hold on to the Scripture firmly’, and We gave him wisdom in his youth” (s. 19, 12).

Imagine Maryam and Elizabeth meeting together. Both of them majestic in their ample vestments, both happy to be women and to be mothers. Two exemplary figures for the actual generation.

“And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!’” (Luke 1, 41-42).

These two blessings, we take them up again without weariness in the prayer of Ave Maria: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you (words of the angel); blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb (words of her cousin Elizabeth).”

And Elizabeth continues: “And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears. The babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1, 43-45).

How beautiful is this visitation of Maryam to Elizabeth! All is light and joy. Little John (Yahya) is all sanctified by it, he is already mandated to go on the mission of prophet, and by his leaps of joy he announces Al-Massih to Elizabeth his mother.

Maryam stays near her aged cousin to help her until the birth of little John (Yahya). She is for us a marvelous example: her faith is made firm in an act of charity; her word “I am the handmaid of the Lord” is made firm in “I put myself at the service of others.” And all in the house appreciate her practical sense, her delicate manner of foreseeing each need without imposing herself, spreading peace and gaiety.

If Maryam comes to manifest herself in our life, will we not feel something like Elizabeth? Something that tells us of the presence of the “Lord”?