One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

May 28, 2006

For May 31, the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Luke 1:39-56

Pope Urban VI set up today’s feast.
The year 1389 was the last year in his life.
He became pope in 1378.
Later that same year a faction of cardinals proceeded to elect a rival who took the title Clement VII, the very first in a series of false popes who for thirty-nine years challenged the true popes in Rome.
In 1389 Pope Urban prepared to institute the feast of the Visitation as a way of praying for the unity of the Church.
Pope Urban died while preparations were underway, but his legitimate successor, Pope Boniface IX, carried through the plan of Pope Urban.
Given the ever-present challenges in the Church, today is a good day to pray with the Blessed Virgin Mary for the unity of the Church.
However, in the Visitation we also celebrate the first historical sign of the work of Christ our saving God in the flesh.
He is only an embryo, but his Spirit carries Mary out to her cousin.
He is only an embryo, but his Spirit awakens Elizabeth to his divine presence.
He is still an embryo, but his Spirit charges another gestating child, John the Baptist, with leaping joy.
Today we celebrate the Spirit and power of the work of Christ in the flesh conceived of the Virgin Mary.
The Savior’s human life is just in its beginning stages, but Mary’s song of worship on this day celebrates salvation as already present and fulfilled.
We hear this if we listen to a proper translation, such as today’s in the lectionary.
Mary says:
God my Savior HAS looked with favor
The Almighty HAS done great things
He HAS shown the strength of his arm
He HAS scattered the proud
He HAS cast down the mighty
He HAS lifted up the lowly
He HAS filled the hungry
He HAS sent the rich away empty
He HAS come to the help of his servant Israel
He HAS remembered his promise of mercy.

Mary sings of salvation as ALREADY FULFILLED— not merely in progress, not merely on the way.
SALVATION ALREADY FULFILLED— even though the Savior is still too small to swell the womb of his mother.
Mary’s song comes out of FULFILLMENT.
For this reason the Church most appropriately uses Mary’s Visitation song as its own song in its official prayer at sunset, the FULFILLMENT of the day.
Today is also a day for celebrating FAITH— our faith, but Mary’s faith also.
The Gospel tells us today that the Holy Spirit, speaking through Elizabeth, tells Mary:
Blessed are you who BELIEVED
of the Lord’s words to you.

Precisely upon hearing the Holy Spirit bless her for her FAITH in the FULFILLMENT of Lord’s words to her— precisely at that moment Mary launches into her canticle of FULFILLMENT.
Pope John Paul II, using Mary as an example, told us what faith is.
To believe means to abandon oneself to the truth of the living God,
knowing and humbly recognizing
“how unsearchable are his judgments
and how inscrutable his ways” (Rm. 11:33).
Mary, who by the eternal will of the Most High,
stands, one may say,
at the very center of those “inscrutable judgments” of God,
conforms herself to them in the dim light of faith,
accepting fully and with a ready heart
everything that is decreed in the divine plan. [Redemptoris Mater, 14]

The Gospel holds out to us the word’s of Mary’s faith-filled answer to the plan of God.
Behold I am the slave of the Lord.
Let it be to me according to your word.

Now carrying her fulfillment and the whole world’s fulfillment in her womb, Mary visits Elizabeth.
Like Mary, we also belong to the Son of God.
God has commissioned us just as much as Mary to carry within us the fulfillment of the world.
By the Eucharistic Flesh and Blood of Christ, we are commissioned to be God-Bearers.
Let us work and pray to bear God truly, and so serve him by bringing authentic joy and fulfillment to the world.

That God Be Glorified in All


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