"At that time, Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah, where she entered Zechariah's house and greeted Elizabeth." Luke 1:39
The town Mary visited is now called Ein Karem. It is a village several miles west of Jerusalem.
I was privileged to go there on January 23, 1984. It was a Monday morning, the last full day of our 3-week tour and study time in the Bible lands. It was a day free to do whatever we pleased. Another person and I decided to take a public bus and go from Jerusalem to Ein Karem, the home of Zacharias and Elizabeth, where John the Baptist was born and grew up. The price of the bus ride was 22 shekels, or about 20 cents.
When we arrived in Ein Karem, we went first to the Church of St. John the Baptist. There, an elderly Franciscan "father" gave us the history of the town and the church. The early Christians thought highly of the village and a church was built there in the 5th century. Later, the Crusaders built a new church there. Then the Turks came and made the church into a stable for their horses.
In recent years, the church has been rebuilt. It is said to be on the site of the home of Zacharias and Elizabeth. Our guide said, "Here was born the precursor of our Lord." He said that the Christians there were terrorized in 1948 and left the town. Now only Jews live in Ein Karem.
Then we walked to the Church of the Visitation, which commemorates the Virgin Mary's visit with Elizabeth. On a wall, Mary's song called the Magnificat (the first word in Latin), is written on hard tiles in more than 40 languages! Mary knew about Hannah, her childlessness, and her deep longing to have a child. She knew how Hannah had poured out her soul in prayer. She also knew Hannah's song of thanksgiving after Samuel was born as recorded in First Samuel, chapter 2.
Mary's song is very similar. She had had a visit from Gabriel, an angel of the highest rank, and the Holy Spirit had come upon her! The power of the Most High had overshadowed her! She needed to talk to someone, but who would understand? Joseph? Would he understand? But then she remembered that the angel Gabriel had spoken about Elizabeth. "That's where I will go," she must have thought to herself. It could be woman-to-woman talk. She will understand because she too is pregnant. The age difference would not matter.
So two Spirit-filled women were drawn together and the Holy Spirit caused Mary to break out in praise! And Mary said, "My soul praises the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!" (Luke 1:46) She was "high" on the Holy Spirit! She sang of God her Savior. She knew she too needed a Savior from the sin in which she was conceived and born. "For he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed." Yes, all generations have recognized how blessed Mary was to soon hold THAT BABY in her arms! How blessed she was to satisfy the hunger of that child! How blessed she was to have child who was so obedient! "For the Mighty One has done great things for me, holy is his name."
And the Mighty One has done great things for us too. He is doing great things for us now. He will continue to do great things for us in the future! May Mary's praise inspire us to praise the Giver of every good and perfect gift!