Imitating The Five Figures of the Visitation, May 31, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Feast of the Visitation
May 31, 2017
Zeph 3:14-18, Is 12:2-6, Lk 1:39-56

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily:

  • It’s a great joy to celebrate the Feast of this Convent and this Chapel dedicated to the Mystery of the Visitation. There are five people in the Visitation and each has important lessons to teach us as we seek to relive this mystery in our lives.
  • Blessed Virgin Mary
    • She went with haste as soon as the Archangel Gabriel left. The Archangel didn’t tell her to go. He didn’t even suggest it. But at the mere mention of Elizabeth’s being pregnant in old age, Mary went with alacrity to help her. This shows her enormous faith in everything the Archangel said, not merely that she was pregnant with the eternal Son of God but that her seemingly sterile elderly cousin was similarly pregnant. She shows us how to go faithfully in haste to care for those in need.
    • We also see in her Magnificat what she was pondering along the four day journey from Nazareth to Jericho to Jerusalem to Ein Karem: she was putting all the pieces together of the great prophecies and praises of Old Testament heroines and applying them to herself. Her Magnificat is a compilation of so many Old Testament passages that she saw were being fulfilled in her. And her soul magnified and spirit rejoiced in the Almighty God and all that he was doing for her in her humility such that every generation thenceforth would call her blessed. The same Almighty God has done great things for us and we, too, need to learn from Mary how to rejoice in him!
  • St. Elizabeth
    • She, too, was docile to the Holy Spirit. She, too, it seems to me must have received a visit from the Archangel Gabriel because, while it was perhaps possible for her by feminine intuition to guess that Mary, her cousin, was pregnant, how could she ever have guessed that she was carrying not just the Messiah but her “Lord” unless she had been explicitly told?
    • And when Mary showed up, she went out to meet her, praising her as blessed among women because of the blessed Fruit of her womb and because of her faith that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled. She also showed her great humility, confessing that she couldn’t believe it that the Mother of her Lord would come to her.
    • We learn from her in a particular way the virtue of praise. We never meet a mere mortal, as CS Lewis said. We meet someone in the image and likeness of God. We should not only not take others for granted, but regularly seek to honor and praise them for their relationship to God as much as we can. This goes for everyone, but it certainly goes for those with whom we live. So often the devil wants to make us doubt who we are, to doubt God’s love, to doubt that we have any goodness, but love of neighbor is premised on love for ourselves. How important it is for others to remind us that we are important to God, to praise us when praise is due, not in a way that makes us proud but that reminds us of how blessed we are!
  • Zechariah
    • Zechariah at this time was mute, but he was paying attention to everything, listening and pondering the dialogues between Mary and Elizabeth. He shows us about the need for contemplative silence to appreciate what God is doing, something that can lead us to our own canticle of praise, like his famous Benedictus, when we open up our mouths.
  • St. John the Baptist
    • St. John received Jesus’ blessing in the womb and leaped. He jumped for joy. Do we leap when we receive God’s blessings? When was the last time we leaped because of what God does for us? He simply gave John his blessing when John was in utero; he allows us to consume him here on earth. How much more should we be leaping in the “womb of this world” as God blesses us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens and makes it possible for us in this world to live with our hearts set on heaven?
  • Jesus
    • Even in his earliest stages of human life, at 3-4 days old, 8-16 cells of a blastocyst according to his human body, Jesus was blessing. He was blessing Mary even as a one-celled embryo. These are extraordinary truths! He was doing good. He was lifting up. He was making others leap for joy. Once we receive his blessing, then we’re called to become his blessing for the world so that he can make others leap again, sending us out with Christ inside, just like Mary, to proclaim our Magnificat and take him to others.
  • As we prepare to receive Jesus and in a sense relive this mystery, we ask him, through the intercession of Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah and John, to bless us as he knows we most need, to fill us with himself, and to send us out with souls magnifying and rejoicing in him!

 

The readings for today’s Mass were:

Reading 1 ZEP 3:14-18A

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has removed the judgment against you,
he has turned away your enemies;
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.
On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
He will sing joyfully because of you,
as one sings at festivals.

Responsorial Psalm ISAIAH 12:2-3, 4BCD, 5-6

R. (6) Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
R. Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R. Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.

Alleluia SEE LK 1:45

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary, who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 1:39-56

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.