Thursday, July 1, 2010

Reflections on the Feast of the Visitation

I'm going to do something a little different for my usual commentary on the Propers of the Sundays and Feasts of the Extraordinary Form.  While normally I would focus on all of the Propers, today I will be focusing solely on the Gospel reading.  In this celebration of the Visitation of Mary, the Gospel provides us so many avenues of knowledge to immerse ourselves in.  Indeed, I will scarcely scratch the surface.  Let us now quote the Gospel:

At that time, Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. And she cried out with a loud voice and said: "Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord." And Mary said: "My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour."  (Luke 1:39-47)
 When I think of this Gospel, the pro-life message of this passage jumps out and screams at me.  Perhaps it is because my friend Todd and his wife Mary Ellen are having their first child, or my dearest friend Jessie and her husband are having their first.  Yet I see within this passage the basis for our vocation as living the pro-life mentality.  We see this in remembering the purpose of Mary's visitation.

Her relative Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist.  One could also say, in a certain sense, this was a "troubled pregnancy."  Elizabeth was as good as barren, and her husband was stricken mute on account of his doubting this pregnancy.  While there was of course feelings of joy, there was also no doubt a feeling of great fear.  Could Elizabeth survive the pregnancy?  Would her son survive?  It is clear that Elizabeth would need all the support she could get.

Do we not see this today?  The world tells expectant mothers that the child is not a child, but just a mere blob of tissue.  Those living in fear during pregnancy often feel they have nowhere to turn to.  The devil feeds on this fear and desperation, and attempts to push the parents towards abortion.  Even if the child is brought to term, the devil attempts to give a sense of irreverence towards the miracle of life.

This I propose is the backdrop of the Visitation.  Yet here is where we see a strong indication of Mary's holiness.  She left her home "in haste" into the hill country.  Herself being pregnant with Our Lord, such could not have been an easy journey.  Yet Our Lady thinks nothing of it.  Her family is in need of her, and that is all that matters.  In perfect humility she puts the needs of others above herself.  Likewise today, the Blessed Virgin wants to visit all those who are preparing to give birth.  She knows what people go through in this time.

We also see that John the Baptist leaped for joy in the womb of Elizabeth, being in the presence of Mary, and most importantly, the infant Jesus.  We see in John's reaction the utter humanity of the infant.  Like any who is in the presence of pure bliss, his heart is overjoyed, causing his entire body to react.  So will the Blessed Virgin do for all the infants in the wombs of their Mothers today, if we just invite her.  She will bring those infants and their parents her Divine Son.

However, the Visitation is also of great profit to even those not expecting a child.  When we are troubled by sin, we often find ourselves lacking proper support and formation.  The adversary tries to lure us into despair.  Left to our own devices, there certainly is no hope.

The good news is that God does not leave us to our own devices!  If we ask, He will send the Blessed Mother to us with her Divine Son.  She will drop everything and head "into the hill country" of our spiritual life to wait on us, support us, and console us.  She will bring her Son to us no matter the cost.  Just as John the Baptizer leaped in the womb, so our souls leap for joy within our bodies in the presence of the Divine Savior and His Blessed Mother.  Our soul knows that in the presence of Christ, everything will be okay.  If there is ever a time society needed this message, it is now.

Let us unceasingly pray that as the Virgin visited Elizabeth and brought her Son, that she may also do the same to us.  To mothers, fathers, married, single, all us sinners.  When we wonder like Elizabeth what we have done to deserve such special treatment, let us always hear the words of the Magnificat from Our Lady's voice.  "My soul doth magnify the Lord.  And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior."  May the wisdom beyond all creation she received from her son penetrate our troubled hearts.

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