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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Feast of theThe Visitation


Luke 1:39 - 56, the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

And Mary said:
‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit exults in God my saviour;
because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.
Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed,
for the Almighty has done great things for me.
Holy is his name,
and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.
He has shown the power of his arm,
he has routed the proud of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away.
He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy
– according to the promise he made to our ancestors –
of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.

There are many lessons to be had from this great feast of the Visitation: our Lady's humility, her spirit of rejoicing (and sharing her joy with St. Elizabeth), the annointing of St. John the baptist in his mother's womb, and this curious parallel with another event involving King David and the ark of the covenant. The ark contained the Law (etched in stone), the rod of Aaron, and mana. God's presence made that ark holy, and the touch of Uzzah, apparently at odds with God (and vice cersa) brought him death. How much holier is our Lady, within whom was knit in flesh our Lord, Jesus Christ, who is the new Law, the new covenant and the true bread of life? As St. Luke tells us, not only is she Christ's holy vessel, God chose to use her here to annoint St. John the Baptist, for the Holy Spirit to pour into this unborn from the voice of Mary's greeting. Everything we celebrate about our Lady, we celebrate for us, for we too are vessels of Christ, temples of the Holy Spirit, channels of God's grace for anyone whose lives we touch, by our witness in word and deed, and by the very holiness of our bodies (if we are in communion with the Lord). Because our Lord renews all of creation with holiness, our actions are sanctified by God. As St. Josemaria Escriva prays, "May your behavior and your conversation be such that each person who sees or hears you may say, 'This man reads the life of Jesus Christ.'", and prompt them to listen closely to the Holy Spirit who perpetually invites them into faith and sanctity.

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