14th Century Wall Visitation
Today, Saturday March 31, 2008 is the Feast Day of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This Feast Day celebrates a great mystery of the Christian faith, one discussed by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta when she accepted her Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and also by John Paul II in his great encyclical letter the Gospel of Life. Yet perhaps many Christians have not fully grasped the beautiful message we discover over and over again in this wonderful event related by St Luke, the Evangelist of the Child Jesus (see Luke 1:39-56).
For past posts, more theologically oriented than today’s see:
Now Mary’s cousin Elizabeth was not only older than her but also surpassed her (according to the world’s standards) in the dignity of her position as the wife of a priest (Zechariah) who served at the Jerusalem Temple. Yet in the mystery of the Visitation, Elizabeth bows to Mary (and her unborn child Jesus): “…and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blesssed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Elizabeth continues to bless Mary as “the mother of my Lord” and especially for her faith!
But we have another “match up” here. The older unborn baby – John – defers to or acknowledges, so to speak, the younger but greater unborn baby, Jesus. John leaps for joy at the approach of the Unborn Savior, but in a spiritual sense he kneels and worships the Unborn Christ Child. Three months later, just after John’s birth, the priest Zechariah (husband to Elizabeth and father to John) will sum things up quite simply: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people…” (Lk 1:68). Yes, Unborn Jesus, who is the Lord (according to Elizabeth and the Holy Spirit), has been visiting the home of Zechariah for three joyful months.
We too, like Unborn John, Elizabeth and Zechariah should worship Unborn Jesus and honor His mother Mary. We should also – along with all society and the medical and social service professions – show deference to all innocent unborn children, and their mothers, acknowledging the awesome dignity and reality of the hidden mystery of life, growing and maturing towards birth’s revelation.
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