The Divine Etiquette

A Rosary Meditation: The Second Joyful Mystery, The Visitation. “Now Mary went into the hill country. And she entered the house of Zachary and saluted Elizabeth.” Luke 1:39-40. We’re all familiar with the above scene, familiar with what went before and what comes after. The words pour out for us the emotions involved, they come from the hearts present, even little John’s, and they help us to understand, to know, and to feel this visit while in some small way taking part. But for just a few minutes lets do something different. Lets not look at the scene so much, or even hear the words for a moment. Lets dwell instead on the sequence of events given the roles of Mary and Elizabeth. Set everything else aside for now. Mary salutes Elizabeth. I suppose that a more modern way of expressing this would be to say Mary greeted Elizabeth. According to the above segment of scripture that’s our sequence of events. Mary comes to Elizabeth and greets her. It seems simple. But this is the Queen of Heaven and Earth, Mother of God the Christ. In human royal circles we would have a different sequence. Can you imagine the Queen of England curtseying to the Duchess of York? That’s not how it works is it? That wouldn’t be the appropriate thing to do, it wouldn’t be acceptable, bluntly it would never happen. It would be the other way ’round in human circles. So what are we seeing here, with Mary and Elizabeth, really? Whatever human etiquette holds forth as correct the Divine Etiquette demonstrated here shows us something different. Who came to be a servant and not to be served? Who came to be baptized by John when John knew it should be the other way around? Who washed the feet of the apostles, even those of a traitor? Who died for the sins of others when there was no sin in him? And who, as his mother, set an example for him while raising him? The Queen of England is served by others. The Queen of Heaven and Earth makes a special trip just to hand to Dominic a string of beads. A great angel travels from Heaven to earth in order to administer communion to three simple shepherd children. And the Creator of everything that has ever been, is now, or ever will be carries his own cross. The one that rightly belonged to you and me. The Divine Etiquette teaches us a standard of living, a way of interacting with others regardless their supposed rank in human society, that makes us different. Or at least it should make us different. What do you think would happen if a patron in a restaurant seated the waitress and poured her coffee?

“And hospitality do not forget; for by this some, being not aware of it, have entertained angels. ” Hebrews 13:2, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … Abraham, a man destined to be the father of many nations, went running out of his tent to greet and serve three strangers. He didn’t know who they were and didn’t ask. It didn’t matter. It didn’t matter where they had come from or where they were going. He entertained angels without knowing it. Certain things ought not matter to us either. Its not about who a person is, their rank in society, whether they’ve just come from Mass or jail, whether they’re going to meet the Pope or headed for a crack house. Its about who we serve. Its about that real and lasting etiquette, a Divine Etiquette. Its about Who we serve by serving others. Any others.



  1. I just love it.

    • Emily Post could write a whole new series of books, couldn’t she? 😉

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