Thursday, May 31, 2012

The "Visitation" Happens To Each Of Us

Mary had just conceived God in her womb. She had just uttered the great "yes" that made possible the redemption of the human race, and indeed the whole of the cosmos. And then what did she do? She "went with haste" (Luke 1:39) to her kinswoman Elizabeth. She went to be with another person.

No doubt, she realized that she could be of some help to her cousin. But I think she also went to share her joy. She knew from the beginning that what she had consented to receive was a gift for everyone. So she went to Elizabeth, and Elizabeth's child, to share the joy that she bore in her womb. She began her mission, right away, to bring Him to human beings in a particular way: Elizabeth, who acclaimed her and the One she was bearing in words that we pray every day, and Elizabeth's child, who leaped for joy in his mother's womb.

And Mary expressed her own heart, and gave us all the Magnificat. One thing that is clear from this canticle of joy is Mary's self-awareness. Mary knew that her entire identity consisted in belonging to Him. "He who is mighty has done great things to me, and holy is His Name!" Along with her unique vocation as Theotokos, Mary gave witness in an exemplary way to the truth of what it means to be a created human person who is called to participate in God's life.

She called herself "His lowly servant," and this is but an image of a more fundamental self-awareness: she is, because she is His. Her sinlessness and her singular grace (for she was "graced" from the very beginning - she was "the graced one," kecharitomene [Luke 1:28], "full of grace") enabled her to see clearly that "to be a human person" means "to belong completely to Infinite Love," to be always the gift of the One who is "Giving Itself."

And Mary, who knew and always knows herself to be a pure gift, does not hesitate to give herself to others. No one told her to go to Elizabeth. The awareness of being Loved generates love. Just as God gives Mary to herself in creation and grace, and then further gives her Himself in the Incarnation, so Mary in turn gives and gives and gives, and God-made-man comes into the lives of each of us through her.

The "Visitation" happens to each of us. Mary is our Mother. She hears the cry of each of our hearts, and she is tending to our needs long before we even recognize that we have them. We don't have to summon her from some faraway place. She is already with us, because at the heart of God's plan for each of us there is the particular care and the tenderness of a woman.

She is already here. Let us be like Elizabeth. Let us acknowledge her joyfully and allow ourselves to be loved by her, so that we might discover the amazing gift of her Son.