Friday’s Gospel, The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 31st May 2024

Friday’s gospel –

We celebrate the culmination of the month of May for Our Lady with her visitation to her cousin, Elizabeth.

What an absolutely joyous scene is set before us: two women, one older and more advanced in her pregnancy and the younger one who would have been about nine weeks pregnant. So in leaving her village to visit Zechariah and Elizabeth she would have been going before her neighbours could see that she was pregnant.

But that didn’t stop John, in Elizabeth’s womb, leaping for joy at the presence of his God. And we see the appearance of the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that the Father had used to assist his people in the Old Testament and the same Spirit who is now our Advocate. And this demonstrates the great gift of faith that the Spirit brings because Elizabeth is able to proclaim one of the most used phrases from the Bible, “of all women you are the most blessed and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”

We have two women who are utterly trusting in Our God irrespective of the circumstances in which they find themselves. They are blessed but they also know they have a great responsibility, but the joy of the love of God outweighs the burden of what might come their way, especially Mary.

Let us reflect on that: do we have joy that the Lord has chosen us to be created? Do we have faith that he truly loves us and wants nothing but the best for us? But do we also recognise that we have responsibilities to be witnesses to the faith that we profess and to love our neighbour?

That recognition leads to inner contentment and a full trust in the Lord. We become open to the Holy Spirit and the gifts that he wishes to pour out upon us can be seen through us.

But we must trust God and, in so doing, be joyous for we have been given the greatest gift of the love of God.

What a wonderful scene we have and Mary, staying three months would have been there to see the birth of John. We don’t know what Zechariah, a man of faith, made of all of this and we can only reflect on what Mary thought of the return of Zechariah’s speech at the naming of John, but we know that after such a joyful period Mary was about to walk back into the maelstrom of her own life.

For when she returned home she would have been five months pregnant, everybody would have known the situation, this is the time undoubtedly Joseph was called on to make his decisions but she would not waiver from her prayer, “my spirit exults in God my saviour”.

Gospel Luke 1:39-56 ©

Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

And Mary said:

‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord

and my spirit exults in God my saviour;

because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.

Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed,

for the Almighty has done great things for me.

Holy is his name,

and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.

He has shown the power of his arm,

he has routed the proud of heart.

He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.

The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away.

He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy

– according to the promise he made to our ancestors –

of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.