Life often brings to us situations where we have to choose:-
a) Either to forget ourselves and our needs and to reach out to another;
b) With a ‘Can’t be bothered’ attitude, ignore the need of another, giving priority to our own situation and problems.
In the midst of one’s own struggle, to be able to see what the other is going through and reach out in self-forgetfulness, is to truly obey Jesus’s command, “As I have loved you, love one another.”
We read in the Gospel of St. Luke that Angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah giving him the news that his prayer for a child has been answered. His wife Elizabeth would bear a son, who was to be named ‘John’. In Luke 1:24-25 we read that Elizabeth becomes pregnant and for five months keeps to her, remaining at home and thinking “What is the Lord doing for me? This is His time for Mercy and for taking away my public disgrace”. With great Mercy God waits for Elizabeth, and in her sixth month, when she needs help the most, He sends Angel Gabriel (Lk 1:26) to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus.
The Incarnation of God, that is, God becoming Man begins with Annunciation and Mary’s ‘Yes’. The Holy Spirit fills the womb of Mary. Jesus is conceived within her womb. Now, she is no longer Mary, but the Blessed Virgin Mary. In receiving Jesus, She is the Body of Christ. It is no longer she who lives, but Christ lives in her.
In the homes of both Mary and Joseph the situation had become highly emotional and sensitive. With the news about Elizabeth being pregnant, Mary and Joseph had two choices – to visit Elizabeth in her need or to stay put in Nazareth and give the Son of God first priority. They chose the former, that is, to visit Elizabeth and immediately set out; not just to visit Elizabeth and Zechariah but to stay with them and help them. One wonders who took care of whom. Mary, the Body of Christ, reached out to Elizabeth who was pregnant with a child, elderly and requiring help. In Elizabeth we see another Body of Christ. We see the needy Body of Christ. The past of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, actually makes real, the Incarnation of Jesus.
Jesus says in Jn 6:56 “those who eat my flesh and drink my Blood, abide in me and I in them.” At Mass, we receive the Body of Christ in the holy Eucharist. When we receive the Body of Christ, like the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are sent forth to the suffering Body of Christ. There are many who are broken, wounded, hurting, hungry, needy – the Body of Christ aching for our Visitation and Help. When we reach out to them, it is not as if we are doing it for Jesus, but “WE ARE DOING IT TO JESUS”. In Matthew 25:40. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of those who are my family, YOU DID IT TO ME.”
May the Feast (on 31st May) of the Visitation of Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph to the home of Elizabeth and Zechariah be a reminder and a lesson to us to reach out to the needy in self-forgetfulness. In doing so, may the aura of Peace of that home, descend and remain in your home. I make this prayer in Jesus’ name.