Today, on the fifth Saturday of Great Lent, the Church commemorates the help of the holy Theotokos by singing the Akathist hymn. And in today’s Gospel we hear of how the Virgin Mary goes to the aid of her kinswoman Elizabeth who proclaims her blessed, and how she praises God for all that He has done for her and in her.
The Church honours the Virgin Mary for her faith and for her role in our salvation. And it holds this faith up to us as an example of what it means to truly listen to and obey God. Saint Ambrose of Milan writes,
You see that Mary did not doubt but believed and therefore obtained the fruit of faith. ‘Blessed … are you who have believed.’ But you also are blessed who have heard and believed. For a soul that has believed has both conceived and bears the Word of God and declares His works. Let the soul of Mary be in each of you, so that it magnifies the Lord. Let the spirit of Mary be in each of you, so that it rejoices in God. She is the one mother of Christ according to the flesh, yet Christ is the fruit of all according to faith. Every soul receives the Word of God, provided that, undefiled and unstained by vices, it guards its purity with inviolate modesty.
The Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke 1:39-49, 56:
In those days, Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 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! 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.”
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.