Deacon Tom's Homily Thursday May 31st, The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary with Child.jpg

[Zephaniah 3:14-18 and Luke 1:39-56]

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior… “. Today two nouns point us to Jesus. Mary’s soul and her spirit proclaim and rejoice in God our Savior. But what is the significance of Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth before the birth of Jesus?

When Elizabeth greeted Mary and recognized the Messiah in Mary's womb they were filled with the Holy Spirit and with a joyful anticipation of the fulfillment of God's promise to give a Savior. What a marvelous wonder for God to fill not only Elizabeth's heart with his Holy Spirit but the child in her womb as well. John the Baptist, even before the birth of the Messiah, pointed to his coming and leaped for joy in the womb of his mother as the Holy Spirit revealed to him the presence of the King to be born. The Lord also wants to fill each of us with his Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is God's gift to us to enable us to know and experience the indwelling presence of God and the power of his kingdom. The Holy Spirit is the way in which God reigns within each of us. So, let’s ask ourselves: do we live in the joy and knowledge of God's indwelling presence with us through his Holy Spirit?

Much has been made over the "recognition" of Jesus in the womb by his cousin John in his own mother's womb. But I think the main thrust of the event is held in Elizabeth's words, "Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." That is what a true disciple would believe, and that is how Mary is portrayed in the Gospel.

Mary's 'Magnificat' remains as relevant as ever to all mothers, especially to the mothers of the disappeared. The second Sunday of May is dedicated to all mothers and on that day, people honor and pay tribute to moms for carrying us for nine months, for giving birth to us, for nurturing us and sharing in the process of creation. But despite the gratifying joy of motherhood, mothers also experience life’s changes of poverty, social injustice, gender discrimination and human rights violations. There can be no greater pain for a mother to bury her own child. There is no more excruciating pain than for a mother not to know the whereabouts of the child she brought up for years. Today we are reminded of the courage shown by the Blessed Mother in her Magnificat where she speaks of thrones collapsing and mighty lords humbled and of the poor and the oppressed being emancipated. Contrary to the general perception of a passive Mary, the Magnificat is the most revolutionary hymn ever sung.

In 1977 Argentina’s military junta banned the Magnificat when the text was written on posters at the height of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo’s protests. Inspiring Guatemala’s poor, the Magnificat’s preferential love for the poor so threatened the powers-that-be that its public recitation was banned in the 1980s.

And if you’ve been watching the news, there are now reports of nearly 1500 unaccompanied minors unaccounted for after they left the United States federal shelter system. Our Justice Department policy says all immigrants caught crossing the border will be prosecuted with a misdemeanor, including families seeking asylum. Since then, hundreds of families have been separated, with parents put into criminal custody, while their children are treated as unaccompanied minors. Those children are then released to adult sponsors. However, 1475 minors have been identified as missing.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is a model of virtue not only for her humility and obedience to the will of God but for her courage to solidify the preferential option for the poor and to emancipate them from the bondage of wretchedness and powerlessness. The Magnificat remains as relevant as ever to all mothers, especially to the mothers of the disappeared and to all other victims of transgressions of human rights.

Pope Francis has said that what took place most singularly in the Virgin Mary also takes place within us, spiritually, when we receive the word of God with a good and sincere heart and put it into practice. It is as if God takes flesh within us; he comes to dwell in us, for he dwells in all who love him and keeps his word. It is not easy to understand this, but really, it is easy to feel it in our hearts.

So today, just as Mary listened, obeyed and responded, let us also respond: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word”