Today is the feast of the Visitation. It is the second of the joyful mysteries and the one that use to feel a bit out of place to me. After all the first Joyful mystery is the Annunciation, clearly very important. After all it involved an appearance of an Angel and Virgin conception. After something like that the Visitation felt a little bit like a road trip for the Blessed Mother. Clearly not in the same league, or is it?
The Annunciation is of such significance because of Mary’s “yes” but also because of the fact that the coming of our savior is revealed to Mary. Up until the time that the angel told her Mary that she was to have a son she had no idea, for obvious reasons. “Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you”.
The birth of Jesus is of equal importance because … it is the birth of Jesus. And with that event of our Lord is revealed to the world through the story told by some shepherds. “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
And placed right between these two revelations is the Visitation. When we look at the two principal characters in today’s gospel, we see something more that the meeting of two family members, we see the coming together of the old and the young. Elizabeth is a model of the Old Testament and she meets the New Testament in Mary’s faith.
There are a number of other similarities in their pregnancies, and the miracles of their children. One is thought to be too old and therefore barren, and the other is too young and therefore obviously a virgin. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
Here Elizabeth, through the reaction of her unborn child, recognizes the existence of our saviors and reveals the identity of the mother of our saviors to the whole world. “And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
Of equal significance is the meeting of their two unborn children. John, who leaps in his mother’s womb, is already anticipating his role as the voice calling out of the Messiah.
These four individuals recognized each other for who they were, they each held a significant role in the Visitation and, essentially, formed the first true Christian community. Just listen to the opening words of Mary’s Magnificat: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.” Such a perfect model for prayer, humility and service.
And Elizabeth’s response provides an equally inspiring example. It says that all that it took was her hearing Mary’s greeting and she was filled with the Holy Spirit. Wouldn’t it be great if we were always so receptive?
When we take a closer look, the Visitation is every bit the equal to the other Joyful mysteries. As a matter of fact, the first three mysteries are perfect together. From the angel Gabriel to her cousin Elizabeth to the good news of the shepherds each one would be incomplete without the other.
The wonderful thing about these first three events is that they set things up so that the rest is left for us. The fourth mystery challenges us to bring this truth of or the Savior back to the temple for blessing and commissioning. And the fifth mystery reminds us that the best place for us to find the messiah is when we are doing “His Fathers will”.
So, Happy feast of the Visitation. I am not sure what that means or what it is that we are supposed to do but it would seem appropriate to go and visit someone, or at least give someone a call. See how they are doing and look to see if we can feel the child of Jesus that is growing in them.
Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice with those who rejoice,
weep with those who weep.
Let love be sincere;
hate what is evil, hold on to what is good;
love one another with mutual affection;
anticipate one another in showing honor.
Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”
Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.
May 29, 2022
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