Visitation: A Ministry of Presence

As we celebrate today the Feast of the Visitation, my thoughts linger on the joy of today’s readings. Certainly the event of the Visitation was a joyful one. We hear Elizabeth sing. We hear Mary sing. Both women exclaim in song the profound joy that has overwhelmed them. So we have today the first part of the Hail Mary and the Magnificat because of this event.

The visitation was not just the Blessed Mother, now conceiving the child Jesus in her womb, dare to go up the mountains of Judea to visit her expecting relative, Elizabeth. If there was great joy in the event, it was because God has first visited His people. Prior to Mary’s journey, the Angel Gabriel came to her and announced to her that she would become the mother of Jesus. Her assent opened the floodgates of grace, as her womb became the New Temple where the Most High has chosen to dwell. Yahweh, the God worshipped at Sinai is no longer felt through manifestations of cloud, lighting and thunder. The God that worked wonders has chosen to come in flesh.

It was this holy presence inside the Blessed Mother that brought about the joy of the events. It was a presence welcomed by Mary but also moved her to go out of her way to visit a relative in a distant place. God’s presence in us is meant to be shared. If God is truly present in us, He fills us with great joy and peace, so much so that it overflows. Truly, deeply, profoundly happy people emanate a joy that shines through everything.

The Visitation then is the sharing of the presence of God by Mary. The Child in her womb caused John the Baptist, though still in the womb, to move with joy, as if dancing at the presence of his Lord. The Child in her womb overshadowed both women with the Holy Spirit that filled their hearts with joy and their mouths with songs.

The question for us today is how much do we make God present in the very places we live and move, and to the very persons we meet everyday?



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