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The Christophers: Feast of Visitation Highlights Selflessness of Mary

Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M.,

The Christophers’ Board of Directors

 

May 31st is the Feast of the Visitation, when we honor the visit that Mary paid to her cousin Elizabeth after learning of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Mary received news of her cousin’s pregnancy in the most dramatic way. It was right after the Angel Gabriel announced that Mary would bear the Son of God. Then he said to her, “And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Mary’s reaction in rushing to Elizabeth’s side demonstrates an act of selflessness that provides a wonderful model for us all. Oftentimes, we have the tendency to turn inward when presented with such overwhelming circumstances as Mary faced. But our Blessed Mother turned from her own concerns to attend to Elizabeth’s needs and went “with haste” to her cousin’s side.

It’s fascinating to imagine the rush of emotions Mary and Elizabeth must have experienced in their encounter. Upon Mary’s arrival, Elizabeth says, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Elizabeth then declares that the child in her womb leapt for joy when Mary arrived, and she exalts Mary for her faith in God, at which point Mary responds with the Magnificat, saying, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.”

Mary’s profession of faith is one of the most beautiful expressions of love for God ever recorded, and it speaks to the profound encounter she had with Elizabeth. It is within this encounter that Elizabeth demonstrates her own closeness to God by announcing the presence of the divine in their midst when she calls Mary “the mother of my Lord.” This short sequence, found in the Gospel of Luke, provides a glimpse into Mary’s world and the circumstances that surrounded her heroic “Yes” to God and faithfully caring for the Infant Jesus. We also see in this story how Mary was provided company in life and the ability to see firsthand how an elder of her family would handle a similarly unusual yet blessed occurrence.

It’s also interesting to note that Elizabeth’s child, John the Baptist, provided that same closeness of mission to Jesus, demonstrating how God so often works in the life of a family, giving us to each other as the greatest gift we have to face life’s challenges. When John leapt in Elizabeth’s womb, he inspired her to know they were in God’s presence, foreshadowing the monumental role he would play in announcing the coming of Christ and preparing the way for His ministry.

The Visitation is the second joyful mystery of the Rosary, so whenever we pray this mystery, we should take the time to contemplate this beautiful family visit and the way Mary came to the aid of her cousin in need. It’s a moment that demonstrates Mary’s character in relation to each one of us as well, because Mary will most certainly come to our aid whenever we call upon her.

So let us honor Mary on the Feast of the Visitation and recall the hasty visit she made to her cousin Elizabeth, remembering how our Blessed Mother comes to all who open wide the doors of their hearts to her intercession and to the mercy of God, made tangible in the world in Jesus Christ.

 

For free copies of the Christopher News Note GOD IS MY STRENGTH, write: The Christophers, 264 West 40th Street, Room 603, New York, NY 10018; or e-mail: mail@christophers.org

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