The Second Joyful Mystery is the Visitation. Mary, newly pregnant, travels to be with her cousin Elizabeth, who is in her seventh month with her son, the future John the Baptist. On Mary’s entrance the babe leaps in Elizabeth’s womb, and Elizabeth says the words we all know so well:
“Hail, full of grace! Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”
There’s a lot going on in this moment. I’ve read, for example, that at that moment our Lord consecrated his cousin John to his service, cleansing him of Original Sin. These are deep matters.
But what I keep being drawn back to is the simple human dimension. Elizabeth, an old woman, is in her seventh month. As the father of four kids, I know full well how difficult the last months of pregnancy can be, even for a young woman; every pregnant mother can use a little extra help around the house in those days. And then Mary, unexpectedly pregnant, surely needed to time to get away to ponder and to pray. What could be more natural for her than to visit her older cousin, to help her in her time of need?
One day the following thought hit me like lightning: Mary received Jesus into her life in the most intimate possible fashion; and her first significant act after receiving him was one of service. Having received her son, the Son of the God, her Lord and Savior, she immediately went out to be of use to her cousin Elizabeth.
And, I thought, she didn’t go on her own—she, of necessity, but also as a sign to us—brought Jesus with her.
That’s what we must do. We receive Christ in baptism, and in the Eucharist; and we must carry Him out with us in service to our neighbors. It is not enough to receive Christ, and remain quiescent; it is not enough serve our neighbors out of a sense of responsibility, or for monetary gain, or under duress; we must learn to love our neighbors with God’s love, and love Him by loving them, and so serve them out of love, with joy, as Mary served her cousin Elizabeth.
And so I think of the Visitation as the Mystery of Service, the mystery of bringing Christ to those whom He loves in the world—which is everyone. And we’ll find, if we do that, that we find Him there.
And then: when we bring Jesus with us in service, we find that the blessings he brings go beyond what we were planning. Mary expected to be of practical help, and maybe to receive advice and comfort; and no doubt all that took place. But she also brought Elizabeth a blessing so great we are still pondering it almost two thousand years later.
How do you bring Christ to others in service?
Copyright 2014 Will Duquette