The Visitation of
the Blessed Virgin Mary
Zephaniah 3: 14-18
Luke 1: 39-56
Today’s Gospel recalls the story of the Visitation – Mary visiting with Elizabeth. On that special occasion, we learn about a very special gift that Mary brought to Elizabeth. We are told that she brought just one thing: HERSELF. She gave Elizabeth the gift of her very presence. Mary gave her the gift, not out of her convenience, but out of the need that Elizabeth had. It was not easy or convenient for Mary to travel that long, lonely, dangerous road from Galilee to the hills of Judea, but Elizabeth needed a helping hand preparing for the birth of her son, John the Baptist.
Mary was also a true Prophet in her time…a true prophet because she followed the same pattern as those prophets who went before her. God calls the prophet. The prophet says, "Here I am, Lord". God says, Here’s what I want.
Some of the prophets put up a fight; Jeremiah says he’s too young, Moses protests that he is slow of speech, Amos argues that he is only a herdsman, and Jonah doesn’t say anything…he just runs away!
Mary is called and is given a mission, and she has just one question about how this sign from God, this birth, can happen when she has no husband. She doesn’t run off or avoid the call: in fact, she runs towards someone to begin proclaiming what she knows to be true.
Mary, the first disciple, in many ways prefigures all the disciples who would follow …those who traveled, mostly on foot, throughout the world to spread the gospel and proclaim the good news. Like those apostles, Mary was also a missionary – the first missionary, a woman who traveled and carried Christ to the world…he was a living tabernacle and Elizabeth became the first to experience Eucharistic adoration.
Salvation history ends up in the hands of a teenager and an elderly woman, both preparing to give birth, both miraculous in their conception, and both who responded: Here I am, Lord. "Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled."
Deacon Brian Clements is a retired member of the retreat team at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California