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The Visitation Luke 1: 39-56

Saturday, May 31, 2008
Imagine that you are Mary, having just been told that you are going to be the Mother of the Messiah and then you decide to go and visit your aged cousin who is pregnant. What would cause you to do such a thing? Well, if we look at the previous section of this gospel (Luke 1:26-38), we may be able to find our answer. In 1: 38: “Mary said, Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your Word. Then the angel departed from her.” Mary effectively said yes to God when she said may it be done to me according to your Word.

Through her interaction with the angel, Mary’s status is changed because he whose name is Holy (1:49) now dwells within her because of her YES. As a result of this indwelling of the Holy One, Mary’s whole life becomes graced and transformed, so much so that the focus is not on her own needs, desires, joys and struggles as a young woman who is pregnant, but on the needs of others, namely her cousin Elizabeth.

Charity is the characteristic of Mary’s relationship with Christ, because she conceived him in charity of heart and now extends that same charity to her cousin Elizabeth. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, “grace (charity) helps to inform the will and intellect of the human person, guiding and directing them to their final and perfect happiness, which is God, since it is impossible for any created good to constitute man’s happiness. For happiness is the perfect good which lulls the appetite altogether, else it would not be the last end, if something yet remained to be desired” (Summa theologiae I.II 2,8). From this it is possible to see that because Mary was open to the will of God, she was able to prefer the good of visiting and caring for her cousin Elizabeth, to other lesser goods, especially because her final and perfect happiness was in serving (doing the will of ) God, who had “looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness” (1:47).

We too are called to share in the joy and happiness Mary experienced in serving her God and we are also encouraged “not to be afraid” (1:30) to serve him because when we come to the Eucharist, we also receive the Holy One, who is able to provide us the necessary graces for preaching and sharing the good news as he did for Mary in her service of her cousin Elizabeth’s needs.


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