Today we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation when the Blessed Virgin Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth. It is but one piece of the mosaic of this woman. Today’s gospel passage, the Magnificat is a mosaic of Old Testament quotations and allusions interpreting the coming of Jesus. As a whole the canticle sees these actions of God as part of a longstanding process of overthrowing proud human expectations and exalting the lowly. It is part of the mosaic we have built over the millennia that speaks of how we consider Mary in the role of salvation history – a mosaic that richly, perhaps extravagantly, places Mary above us, on a pedestal, beyond our reach. We think of her as the Queen of Heaven, robed in the royal drapings of the Queen Mother – and so she is. We think of her as the Pieta at the foot of the cross, the Mother of Sorrows – and so she is. Think of all the titles and honorifics that we bestow upon her. Continue reading
If today’s gospel sounds not only familiar but brings about the thought, “didn’t I just hear that gospel….?” – you are correct. It is a scene from Luke’s gospel called the Visitation when Mary goes in haste to the hill country to see her relative Elizabeth, mother-to-be of John the Baptist. It was proclaimed as the gospel in the Sunday just past, and is the traditional reading for the 4th Tuesday in Advent. Continue reading
This coming Sunday is the Solemnity of the Assumption. The gospel is taken from the Infancy Narratives of Luke’s Gospel. The first part of the gospel is traditionally known as the Visitation.
39 During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, 42 cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:39-16)
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation when the Blessed Virgin Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth immediately after the events of the Annunciation when the Angel Gabriel proclaimed the conception of the Christ Child by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Lucan narrative in Chapter 1 is about as rich a text as one could ask for. It is rich in OT echoes with strains of 1 Samuel woven into the thread of the story. It foreshadows Luke’s emphasis of the Holy Spirit so profoundly described in his second book, Acts of the Apostles.
In the season of Advent and Christmas, we will hear a lot about Mary, the mother of Jesus. We’ll hear about her obedience, her purity, her faith, her consent. We’ll see her in outdoor Nativity displays, draped in blue, with downcast eyes and a beatific smile. We’ll enjoy watching our children dramatize her story in “virtual pageants” on Christmas Eve. We’ll honor her legacy with some of the most beloved prayers, liturgies, and carols we know. All of it true and right. But this morning let us consider Mary, the prophet. Mary, the voice of the downtrodden. Mary, the singer of the Magnificat, God’s gorgeous justice song.
We live in a world of email, text messaging, tweets, instagrams, and all manner of connectivity in social and electronic media. It has become all very ordinary. Yet, each day, I am more than a little curious about what comes “old school” via USPS into my mailbox. There is correspondence from the Diocese, advertisements for one thing or another guaranteed to improve and renew the parish, bills and invoices, catalogs, and “ta-da!”… Christmas cards. Continue reading