We hope that you are safe and well.
Today's Meditation portrays The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth which the Church celebrates today. It reminds me of one of Jean's favorite paintings "One Speaks, One Listens" by Carol Grigg, portraying two women listening to each other, caring for each other. It also echoes in the readings for the day and in my (Ron) reading of John O'Donohue's Beauty with these excerpts on "silence coming to voice" and "care" embodied by Elizabeth and Mary and whomever you are visiting today.
We invite you to join us as we commit ourselves to working tirelessly to end systemic and structural racism in our society, in the church, in healthcare, in the workplace--wherever it shows up so that everyone may come to have more abundant life. May this meditation nourish our contemplative-active hearts and sustain all of us in action.
In the spirit of our philosophy of co-creating community and our awareness that the Spirit speaks through each of us, we invite you to share your meditations with us as well. We truly believe that it is God's economy of abundance: when we share our blessings, our thoughts, our feelings, we are all made richer.
We hope and pray that you find peace, healing, hope and the infusion of joy in your life!
With our love and care,
Ron and Jean
MEDITATION 685: The Visitation: Mary visits Elizabeth echoing in Zephaniah, Luke and John O'Donohue--and whomever you are visiting
Blessed Among Us
Saints Mary and Elizabeth
Feast of the Visitation
Today’s feast does not commemorate one saint but a meeting between two pregnant saints: Mary, the mother of Jesus, and her kinswoman Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. According to Luke, it was Mary who took the initiative for this “visitation.” From the angel who announced her own miraculous conception, Mary had learned that Elizabeth—“she who was called barren”—had also conceived a son “in her old age.” The story suggests that Elizabeth’s miraculous conception was a kind of guarantee of the promise made to Mary: “For with God nothing will be impossible.” And so her first impulse was to visit the woman with whom she was strangely linked in God’s plan.
When Elizabeth hears Mary’s greeting she feels the babe in her own womb leap for joy, and she exclaims, “Blessed are you among women.” Mary responds with an extraordinary prayer, acknowledging her own part in the unfolding of God’s promises, especially as these relate to the poor and oppressed: “My soul magnifies the Lord . . . for he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden. . . . He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.”
In this remarkable vision the favor of God to two humble women is seen to presage a thoroughgoing process of social reversal. The joy of their encounter is unclouded by any foreshadowing that the kind of vision evinced in Mary’s prayer will one day lead to the death of these two leaping babes. For now, the feast of the Visitation remembers only the joy and celebrates the sisterhood of two women joined by faith in the God of the Impossible.
“In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country . . .”—Luke 1:39
A reading from the Book of the Prophet Zephaniah 3:14-18a
The Leader of Israel, our God, is in your midst.
Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! / Sing joyfully, O Israel! / Be glad and exult with all your heart, / O daughter Jerusalem! / Our God has removed the judgment against you, / turning away your enemies; / The Leader of Israel, our God, is in your midst, / you have no further misfortune to fear. / On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: / Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! / Your God, is in your midst, / a mighty savior; / rejoicing over you with gladness, / and renewing you in love, / singing joyfully because of you, / as one sings at festivals.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke 1:39-56
Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my God should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by our God would be fulfilled.”
And Mary said: / “My soul proclaims the greatness of our God; / my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, / who has looked with favor on this lowly servant. / From this day all generations will call me blessed: / the Almighty has done great things for me, / and holy is God's Name.
God has mercy on those who revere her / in every generation. / showing the strength of his arm, / scattering the proud in their conceit. / casting down the mighty from their thrones, / and lifting up the lowly. / filling the hungry with good things, / and sending the rich away empty. / coming to the help of her servant Israel / remembering his promise of mercy, / the promise made to our ancestors, / to Abraham and Sarah and their children for ever.”
Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and then returned to her home.
I am reading John O'Donohue's Beauty and I was struck by these words:
"Silence is not just the space or medium through which sound comes. Rather silence comes to voice in sound. The primeval beauty of silence becomes audible in the elemental music of the earth and in our music of instrument and voice. At the core of the world and at the core of the soul is silence that ripples with the music of beauty and the whisperings of the eternal."
These words come to mind as I think of what Mary and Elizabeth give voice to: the feelings in their own hearts and whisperings of the eternal. The visit also embodies care which John O'Donohue also reflects on: "In his classic reflection on Being and Time, Martin Heidegger discovered that at the heart of time dwelt 'care.' The ability to care is the hallmark of the human, the touchstone of morality and the ground of holiness. Without the warmth of care, the world becomes a graveyard. In the kindness of care, the divine comes alive in us."