On May 31 the Church celebrates the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This day commemorates Mary’s visit to the home of her cousin Elizabeth. It is my favorite Marian feast. I think because it is such a human story of two women who find themselves in totally unexpected situations. Mary and Elizabeth greet each other and, so too, do the infants they are each carrying. In Luke’s Gospel, Elizabeth says, “For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” (Luke 1:39-56) “Leaped for joy!” I think about the situations in my life that cause me to “leap for joy”. On this feast day, I try to plan at least one action that will cause me to leap for joy!
This feast is also about believing that with God all things are possible. Mary believed. Elizabeth believed. Together they shared that belief with each other. And, they each expressed their thanks for God in words that have become familiar prayers to us: 1) the Hail Mary includes Elizabeth’s words; and 2) Mary’s Song (the Magnificat) is prayed every day in the Liturgy of the Hours. Both prayers have also been set to music by a number of composers. One of my favorite renditions of Mary’s Song is by Millie Rieth. (You can find a performance by googling the title and composer.)
In a meditation on the Visitation, Jerome Kodell, OSB, former abbot of Subiaco Abbey in Arkansas, offered this thought:
Whenever two people of faith come together, they are bringing Christ to one another, and a new creation of grace is waiting to be born in that encounter. In this way, we are constantly evangelizing one another, not in the sense of preaching a doctrine, but in the sense of bringing Christ, the embodied Gospel, to one another.
I carried this thought with me this week when I was invited to lunch with one of my friends from church. A few days later, I met a different friend for lunch at Station 400 in Sarasota. Both of these friends are women of faith. I like Kodell’s idea that we were bringing the embodied Gospel to each other.
On this feast day, may God strengthen our faith and make us messengers of the good news of Christ in our daily living and throughout every land. Amen.