A Homily Delivered on the Feast of the Visitation of our Blessed Mother, Friday 31st May 2019, at the Bigard Chapel.
Philosophers here can bear us witness with regard to the arguments for or against the fact that in every cause and effect event, there is a necessary connection. In every necessarily connected events, there is a moment and in such a moment, one flashes back to the previous event and anticipates the future event that was predicated by the former. Take for instance, the moment between the day our Lecturers gave their directions for the Bth and the BPhil exams and the day that the exams will be written, there is a reflection of what the Lecturer said that day and an anticipation of what will happen on the examination day.
Similarly, the Gospel we just heard, presents to us the visitation of our Blessed Mother to the house of Zechariah. From the point of view of delimitation, Shortly before this event, is a foundational one, upon which there wouldn’t have been the visitation. It is the event of Annunciation. A mysterious event that inaugurated our Blessed Mother into our salvation history. The setting of her reflection on the two connected events was a Journey into the hill country to the city of Judah in order to visit her elderly cousin, Elizabeth in her six months pregnancy.
In this Journey, the humanity of our Blessed Mother with regard to her ontological change after the event of annunciation, has a big lesson for us. We could imagine a precarious situation of “unexpected” pregnancy that caught up with a young virgin that the almighty God made in fine definitions. She is innocent, gentle and poor. The pros and cons of a world torments of pregnancy outside wedlock vis a viz Heavenly promise of a virgin mother could have been a very difficult thesis for this girl of 14 years, who never attended any Jewish school of rhetorics, to philosophize or theologise.
Yet the best explanation to offer Joseph to whom she is Bethroted was reeling in her mind. The shame of how to identify with her fellow Galilean girls (when the pregnancy might have developed) who look up to her as incorruptible was already heavy on her. The mockery of the men of Bethlehem whom she might have refused their inordinate quest for friendship on different occasions just to retain her virginity, was anticipated. Worst of all, it was a mystery beyond human comprehension to be pregnant without a male participant. This is very alien to Jewish tradition, and stoning to death was the only way prescribed by the Torah. She might have also stopped at each moment on the hill, to reflect about who will understand her story or even how she will explain. Yet, abortion was never an option for her, due to certain historical factors, her religious background, and her ardent love for God.
Far more significantly, in all these, she was more concerned with archangel Gabriel’s news about her elderly cousin’s six months pregnancy. So concerned that at every moment she remembers her destination, she would hasten to her step. She never knew that her greatest consolation, and courage to withstand her own condition was waiting for her at Zechariah’s vicinity. she never knew that the Fuller sense of what Prophet Zephaniah proclaimed in the first reading was referring to her. “Rejoice O daughter of Jerusalem…, for the Lord has taken away your judgements”.
Meanwhile, our Blessed Lord had to begin to express the mystery of incarnation from the womb for the sake of her Blessed Mother. It was a drama of God made man, the intercommunication of unborn children from two separate womb. It was a miracle biologically proven and yet more than a psychic connection. What sort of leaping of John elicited by Divine presence of God incarnate would have led his mother Elizabeth to prophesy in a way that all the sorrows of our Blessed Mother turned into a profound Joy? Of course, we can’t explain what happened in the womb of Elizabeth but exegets were clever enough to link it to the uncontrollable dancing of King David, when the ark of the covenant was brought to his territory( 2 Sam 6: 12- 16). It was so marvelous that Micaiah his wife,( Daughter of Saul) was ashamed, and rebuked him (of course, that inordinate response of Micaiah made her to suffer barrenness). No wonder the great magnificat was more powerful than that of Hannah in 1 Sam 2: 1-10. How can we reconcile the fact that a song sang by Hannah for the gift of Samuel was more beautifully rendered by a young virgin troubled on how to explain her pregnancy to the world? That is the power of the unborn Jesus.
In our times, the same Jesus has been born, lived and performed unimaginable deeds, suffered, died and resurrected with a glorified body which he left for us in his memorial. And so, we believe and celebrate that in the Eucharist, he is really, trully, fully and substantially present in his Divinity and humanity. When we encounter turbulent moments in our life endeavors, and others bring their own problems, let us bear in mind that our Blessed Mother has showed the way in a Journey of selfless solidarity. Let us not hesitate to care for the other. Especially in our pastoral ministry (family, business, institutions, and other aspects of life), our problems cannot be solved by refusing to care for others. The Church is one mystical body and as future priests (or Christians), we shall represent Christ the head (in persona Christi capitis). Just like in the human body, whereby the head cannot be comfortable by refusing the hand which feeds the mouth so that other members of the body can grow (including the head) and perform their different functions for the health of the entire body. In the same way our collaborative synergy helps to grow the vigorous body of Christ, the Church.
Therefore, let us not be so worried and selfish that we neglect or dismiss the Joys and sorrows of others. Let us learn to still care for other’s plights kindly trusting in our Blessed Lord and His Blessed Mother, for they alone knows and have the password to our problems. Besides, St. Paul reminds us that the almighty God who called us into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ, can never abandon us (ICor. 1:9). May the love within us set fire to others with its flame through Christ our Lord Amen!
Otito Diri Jesu