The woman was pregnant. She was thrilled.
The pregnancy was, to say the least, unexpected. She had been abstinent, so abstinent that there was no possibility. None. The only thing that she could attribute this baby to was what the angel had told her:
“The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”
It wasn’t, for Mary, a euphemism for some spiritual abuse, for some guy telling her stories. She was sure.
Her community wasn’t. We don’t know what they said. We only know that her fiance was concerned with her reputation, not wanting her to face public disgrace. The fact that he didn’t exactly believe her story suggests that others didn’t either.
Nazareth was a small town. Small towns are difficult places when no one believes your story, when every person walking by seems to find interesting things on the other side of the street. But Mary didn’t need to stay in Nazareth, not when she had a relative in another town. The angel mentioned the relative, implying, perhaps, that Mary might want to go visit.
Elizabeth was six months into her own surprising pregnancy. With a husband unable to talk, perhaps unable to hear, and with a body old for bearing the child she was unexpectedly carrying, Mary could probably find some way to help.
I’m guessing, however, that both Elizabeth and Mary were surprised at how welcome Mary was. Mary walks in, Elizabeth’s stomach is kicked in a way it had never been kicked, and she finds herself saying,
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
Mary found a welcome place. The only one in her world.