Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary-Year B;This homily was given 31 May, 2006, at Our Lady of Mercy, East Greenwich, R.I.; read Luke 1:39-56)

The scene of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is one that is often beautifully depicted in Christian art. Yet sometimes, if we are not careful, we can reduce Mary to only a painting, picture or statue. We risk placing her so outside our own experience that she becomes some distant figure not entirely involved in the everyday world around us.

Fortunately, the Feast of the Visitation does not allow us to do that. Far from being statuesque or stationary, Mary in the Gospel for this feast is moving.

St. Luke tells us that she “set out and traveled to the hill country in haste” (Luke 1:39) to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Mary wastes no time manifesting the love of God in the world around her.

The love that Mary carries in her body, and the loved that wells up in her soul, does not allow her to stand still. She goes in haste to assist her cousin in need, and in that act of charity she sets in motion a whole chain of events that perpetuates the love she carries within.

Immediately upon arriving at the house of Zechariah, Mary’s voice sets the heart of St. John the Baptist in motion. Like one captive within the womb of St. Elizabeth, he cannot wait to get out and make Christ known in the world around him.

St. Elizabeth, for her part, cannot keep silent and sings out the praises of the Lord, blessing Mary and the God who works such wonders among His people.

In a very practical way, we can ask ourselves:

What lies dormant in our world today?

Where are the St. John the Baptists and the St. Elizabeths in our lives, waiting for the love of God to set their hearts in motion?

Where is the love of Christ waiting for a place to happen in our lives today.

Let us move in haste, following the example of Our Lady. May the Visitation become more than just a painting, more than just a picture in our lives. Like Mary, might we make the love of Christ real in the world around us.