Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 31, 2010
The Visitation invites closer relationship with Jesus, Mary
The feast of the Visitation, celebrated May 31, is a feast that may get forgotten in the midst of the many feasts at this time of the year. The Church, however, calls on us to meditate on this visit of the newly-pregnant Mary to her cousin Elizabeth whenever we pray the joyful mysteries of the rosary.
We can view this meeting of two kinswomen in the hill country of Judea from different perspectives. As a human event, Mary finally has someone with whom she can share the joy of becoming the mother of the Messiah.
As a young unmarried woman, to whom could she tell her story of being visited by an angel and being asked to be the mother of the Son of God? Who would believe such a tale? Mary has great news, but must carry it in silence.
But as the child leaps within her own womb, Elizabeth recognizes the uniqueness of Mary's child. "Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!" she exclaims (Luke 1.42-43).
Mary sees that the great gift she is given has been recognized without her saying a word. So she bursts out in exultant praise: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour" (1.46-47).
This feast of the Visitation is also a feast of the Holy Spirit. We see in Mary's prayer the Magnificat a "spiritual" understanding of reality. She recognizes in her pregnancy an act of God's mercy, one that scatters the proud and casts down the mighty. God has remembered his promise to Israel. He has shown his strength and has lifted up the lowly.
In that reversal of the order of pride with the order of humility, Mary experiences great joy and peace, the first fruits of the Spirit's action.
Pope John Paul II looked at this from yet a different angle. For him, the Visitation is also a feast of the Holy Eucharist. With the Word Made Flesh in her womb, Mary has become the first tabernacle and the Visitation the first instance of Eucharistic Adoration.
In his 2003 encyclical, The Church from the Eucharist, Pope John Paul noted how Jesus allowed himself to be adored by Elizabeth, "radiating his light as it were through the eyes and the voice of Mary" (n. 55). As well, we recall how the unborn John the Baptist leapt for joy in the womb.
We can make this feast of the Visitation come alive for us, first through meditating on the mystery while praying the rosary. We can also call on the Holy Spirit to be evermore present in our lives so that we too may leap for joy at any hint of Jesus' presence. We can further give our time to Eucharistic Adoration in which the Paschal Mystery is extended beyond the Mass and becomes a grace opportunity every hour of the day.
The Visitation need not be a feast that is here today, gone tomorrow. It opens up new vistas for a closer relationship with Jesus and his mother.
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