Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Memorial Day)
Book of the Prophet Zephaniah 3:14-18a, Psalm (Isiah 12), & Luke 1:39-56
'The Visitation' by the French artist Philippe de Champaigne, circa 1643-48.
God does unexpected and wonderful things! In this simple passage from the Gospel of Saint Luke, we see two humble women who unexpectedly become the vehicles for God's greatest work—the redemption of the world. First, we have Elizabeth, who, as an older childless woman, discovers she is to have a baby who will become the forerunner of the promised Messiah. Then we have Mary, Elizabeth's cousin, who, as an unmarried young girl, was visited by an angel who announces that she will give birth to the Savior of the World. These are unexpected circumstances and very unlikely figures to play in God's redemptive plan. Mary was compelled to visit Elizabeth, and as they met, Elizabeth's baby stirs in her womb in anticipation of his connection with the coming Messiah. Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and cries out to Mary, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb." Mary breaks into song, reflecting the 'Song of Hannah', a prayer of thanksgiving at the unexpected birth of her child, Samuel, so many years before. Mary's song has become one of the church's greatest hymns known to all of us as 'The Magnificat' which declares the greatest of God's love and mercy toward His people.
Have you ever wondered what made Mary and Elizabeth candidates for God working in such significant ways through them? It has to be simply an openness to God's involvement in their lives. They knew of God's promises, and they lived in anticipation of the fulfillment of what He said He would do. Due to their belief, God was able to use them in such unexpected and remarkable ways. Blessed is belief because there are no limits to what God may bring to pass.
Friends, faith is an act of firm conviction in that it begins with the turning of one's heart toward God. It is the quiet surrender of self to the spirit of God, which takes hold and brings to fulfillment in each of us the faith that is His gift, and it opens the way for all His continued giving.
Question of the Day: How open are you to the unexpected and wonderful things God works through you?
Prayer: "Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary, who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled. Alleluia, alleluia."