Thursday, 5/31/2018, The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Be Like Mary
First Reading Commentary Romans 12:9-16
Today we celebrate the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth and there are two choices for the first reading: Zephaniah 3:14-18a and Romans 12:9-16. This commentary is based on the reading from Romans.
Although our first reading is not specifically about Mary, the advice that St. Paul gave to the Romans is a reflection of the way that Mary was and still is, not only toward her Son but toward all of us. He wrote, "Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor.”
Mary’s love for God is sincere and always has been. She hates what is evil like no one else but her Son. She holds on to the goodness in her heart and in her spirit and more than that, she shared it with us by agreeing to be the Mother of Christ. She still shares her goodness with us as our mother in heaven and she intercedes on our behalf to her Son in heaven. Mary anticipates each one of us joining her and Jesus in heaven and just as she honored her cousin Elizabeth by visiting her, Mary will honor our arrival in heaven.
St. Paul told the Romans to remain zealous, to be fervent in spirit and to serve the Lord. Mary had to remain zealous and fervent in spirit in order to be Jesus’s mother. Imagine all of the ups and downs that she experienced from the joy of His birth to the grief of His death. No one has ever served the Lord better than Mary and it all began at the moment of her own birth for she was conceived and came into the world without sin.
Mary rejoiced in hope, endured in affliction and persevered in prayer—three more things that St. Paul advised the Romans. But then comes, a couple of biggies with Mary as she contributes to the needs of the holy ones and exercises hospitality.
Mary has such a big heart, that even though she was pregnant herself, she made the difficult journey to be with Elizabeth. That heart of Mary, full of love for all of humanity is one reason why Jesus made her our mother in heaven.
St. Paul said, “Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them.” We do not think of Mary being persecuted because there are no accounts of her going through the trials that Christ did and she never endured physical harm. But then, we must remember that Mary had Seven Sorrows and Mary was indeed persecuted as she watched Jesus go through His Passion.
There is no greater pain that anyone can endure than that of loosing a child. We can barely imagine the persecution that Mary had to suffer as she watched Jesus being tortured and put to death on the cross. None of us would say that Mary was wrong if she had cursed the people who put her Son to death. But she did not! Whenever we reject Jesus, we persecute Him and His mother. But neither one of them persecutes us. Instead, they forgive. And, this is how they forgive: Mary intercedes for us and Jesus shows mercy.
St. Paul told the Romans, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” This is the way that Mary was with Jesus and the Apostles. She is this way with us today. Mary rejoices with us in our spiritual growth and salvation. She weeps with us when we are sad and when we fall.
Mary has the same regard for everyone and treats everyone the same way. She never considered herself to be better than anyone else. Mary is our Mother in Heaven and the Queen of Heaven and Earth but she has never allowed pride to control her actions. Can you think of anyone who has ever lived who was more humble than Mary except for her Son? I can think of some saints who have tried and you might say that they have come close but I cannot think of anyone who can match the humility of Mary.
In this passage of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, he summed up everything that Jesus taught us and commanded us about the way that we deal with each other. It is all about service, love and humility. And, it is all about being blessed in spite of being persecuted by others. Paul may have shared the Word in this letter but he also gave a perfect description of Mary.
Mary Gives All of Herself
Gospel Commentary Luke 1:39-56
The visitation of Mary to Elizabeth is the Second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. Luke tells us that Mary made haste to a town of Judah and entered Zechariah’s house. Mary made this trip immediately after being told by the angel Gabriel that she would bare a son and so would her cousin Elizabeth in spite of her age. But Mary had faith that both of these sons were to be important people in God’s plan.
Mary was the perfect person to be the mother of Jesus for many reasons. One of those reasons was her zealous commitment to giving all of herself to someone else in need. In this way, Mary was just like the Father and her Son. Mary’s going out of her way to visit Elizabeth is a demonstration of her God-like and humble generosity.
Not only did Mary go to Elizabeth, but Luke tells us that Mary went in haste. In other words, Mary dropped everything and rushed to the aid of her cousin. That is what God does for us when we call on Him. He drops everything and comes to our aid. No matter what, God is always there for us.
Elizabeth’s baby, John the Baptist, leaped in his mother's womb when Mary greeted her. Filled by the Holy Spirit, she cried out, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” This is the gospel that the prayer of the Hail Mary comes from. We know that Blessed, means happy so Elizabeth said happy are you and happy is your baby.
This is also the gospel that the prayer of the Magnificat, comes from. Elizabeth asked, “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me…Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Elizabeth professed her faith in God and acknowledged Mary’s faith. Mary’s answer to Elizabeth is the prayer of the Magnificat. There are several variations of it, one of them being the Catena which is a part of the Legion of Mary prayers and said daily by active members of the Legion of Mary.
Luke tells us that Mary remained with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned to her home. When Gabriel told Mary that Elizabeth was with child, he also told her that Elizabeth was in her sixth month. This means that Mary waited for John the Baptist to be born before returning home which is another demonstration of Mary giving all of, herself.
The surrendering of all of oneself to God is what we are called to do and we should be happy to give ourselves to God because He gave all of Himself to us. There is no better role model than Mary for us to follow in this practice except for her Son.