Tag Archives: Visitation

Bearing Jesus

Today I went to Buena Vista Concepción for a Celebration of the Word with Communion. This is the first time I visited this aldea and so, if I hadn’t had a friend with me, I’d have landed somewhere up in the middle of nowhere.

As I preached on the Gospel of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, I mentioned how Mary carried Jesus in her womb to her cousin and the child, John the Baptist, in Elizabeth’s womb.

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All of a sudden I realized that I had been bearing Jesus to these people, bearing Jesus in the Eucharist. This became even clearer to me when I returned to Plan Grande and visited a gravely ill eighty-one-year-old woman. The woman was barely conscious, but opened her eyes as I prayed. I had a consecrated host with me, since I went directly to the house of Doña Raimunda. I didn’t give her communion but still, in some sense, I bore Jesus with me.

This is the mystery of bringing Communion to the sick or to distant communities. We are following in the footsteps of Mary who brought Jesus to her cousin.

Even if we don’t bring Communion to the sick or to distant communities, all of us can bear Jesus to others as Mary did – coming to serve her cousin, a person in need.

The encounter of Mary and Elizabeth

Visitation SuchitotoToday is the feast of the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. Perhaps it might be better called “The Encounter.”

Four people encounter each other – Mary, Jesus in her womb, Elizabeth, and John the Baptist in her womb.

Elizabeth greets Mary with words that are now part of the “Hail Mary.” John leaps in his mother’s womb. Mary responds with the Magnificat, a canticle of God’s liberating love. Jesus is just there – in Mary’s womb.

Jesus does nothing but be present. He does not say anything; he doesn’t move in Mary’s womb. He is just there.

That is the mystery of the encounter with God – Jesus is, Jesus is present.

How do we respond?

Do we recognize Him as Elizabeth and John did?

Do we carry Him to others as Mary did?

Do we even recognize Him?

Perhaps we need to recall this paraphrase of a poem of St. John of the Cross:

If you meet the Virgin
coming down the road,
ask her in —
she bears the Word of God.

Will we recognize Jesus and will we bear him to others?

 

—–

De Verbo divino
la Virgen preñada
viene de camino
si le dais posada.

The solidarity of Mary and Elizabeth

Painting in the church of El Sitio, Suchitoto, El Salvador

Painting in the church of El Sitio, Suchitoto, El Salvador

Mary went in haste
to visit her cousin Elizabeth.
Luke 1: 

Mary, pregnant with the Word of God, goes to visit her aged cousin, Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist.

Did she go just to help her cousin or did she go seeking the help and advice of an older relative who was also experiencing pregnancy?

Did she go confident of what she had experienced when the angel appeared to her or did she go to share her misgivings with a cousin whose husband had also been visited by an angel?

We will probably never know.

But I think this is a case of real solidarity, real accompaniment. Both are sharing and caring for each other. Both have something to offer. Both experience the presence of the Lord in very physical ways – Mary with Jesus in her womb and Elizabeth with John jumping (kicking?) in hers.

When we realize that God is present, we can be more open to accompanying the other person, being there with them in joys and sorrows, in pain and in laughter.

May this season be a time to renew experiences of solidarity and accompaniment – so that we can remember that God is present.

Carrying God wherever we go

Today we celebrate the encounter of two pregnant women and the children in their wombs, a feast that dates back to the Franciscans in 1263.

Painting in the church of El Sitio, Suchitoto, El Salvador

Painting in the church of El Sitio, Suchitoto, El Salvador

Mary, pregnant with the Word of God made flesh, goes to meet her elderly cousin Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist. Who knows why Mary went? Perhaps to help her cousin, perhaps to seek the counsel of an older woman, perhaps to have someone to talk to about the strange things happening in her life.

But Mary goes and brings God with her. And so can we carry God wherever we go.

The reading for Vigils today in Benedictine Daily Prayer, has a marvelous reading from Caryll Houselander’s The Reed of God, which makes just this point:

Sometimes it may seem to us that there is no purpose in our lives, that going day after day to this office or that school or factory is nothing else but waste and weariness. But it may be that God has sent us there because, but for us, Christ would not be there. If our being there means that Christ is there, that alone makes it worth while.

When Mary met Elizabeth, John leaped for joy in her womb – both he and his mother recognized the presence of God in Mary.

But, Houselander insists, this is not something that just happened in the past with Mary. It is something that God can do in our lives.

 If Christ is growing in us, if we are at peace, recollected, because we know that however insignificant our life seems to be, from it he is forming himself; if we go with eager will, in haste, to whatever our circumstances compel us, because we believe that we are driven more and more to act on the impulse of love. And the answer we shall get from others to those impulses will be an awakening into life, or the leap of joy of the already wakened life within them.

So today, let us go wherever we are called, with joy and with love, carrying Christ within us so that those around us will leap with joy, recognizing that God is with us, God has become flesh among us, and God loves us.

 

Bearing Christ to the world

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the visitation of Mary, pregnant with Jesus, to her cousin Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist. It is a feast of the love between two women who said yes to the presence of God in their lives.

There is much that could and should be written about the implications of the Gospel (Luke 1: 39-56), which ends with Mary’s Magnificat, a revolutionary canticle of God’s Kingdom overturning the kingdom’s of this world.

But what struck me this morning while praying Vigils from Benedictine Daily Prayer: A Short Breviary,  was a selection from Caryll Houselander’s  Reed of God.  The whole passage cited is worth reading, especially the first paragraph. But these words especially recalled to me the vocation all of us have to bring Christ to our daily lives, to our work and not only to our prayer.

If Christ is growing in us, if we are at peace, recollected, because we know that however insignificant our life seems to be, from it he is forming himself; if we go with eager will, in haste, to whatever our circumstances compel us, because we believe that he desires to be in that place, we shall find that we are driven more and more to act on the impulse of his love. And the answer we shall get from others to these impulses will be an awakening into life, or the leap into joy of already wakened life within them.

All work – that is true and just and good – can be a place where God is found. And wherever we can and whatever we do, that is where we can bring Christ.