THE VISITATION: If Israel had not been so unfaithful to its God, so much pain and sorrow would not have been required. And yet the faith of Abraham and the fidelity of the prophets are very much there as realities which cannot fail but participate in the birth of the Redeemer.
But how is this mixed theological heritage to be housed within the destiny of the modest and innocent Maiden of Nazareth? Only by seeing that the election of the Virgin to be Mother of the Redeemer antedated every other aspect of her mission. Her Son first had to be the Child of the Father in order then to become Man and be capable of taking up on his shoulders the burden of a guilty world. In the same way, too, the Mother had to be the first thought in God’s plan of salvation, so that she could then become, like her Son, the bearer of all the constellations of salvation history.
The promise made to the woman upon her expulsion from paradise–that her issue would trample the head of the serpent (Gn 3:15)-already hints at this darkly. But we see it quite clearly in Mary’s encounter with Elizabeth, when the younger, Messianic Child blesses the older child, his forerunner, in his mother’s womb, thus blessing all Old Testament prophecy as well. The Last is, in God’s plans, the First, that for whose sake everything that precedes has existed. (Father Hans Urs von Balthasar was an eminent Swiss Catholic theologian)

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