Today we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At the Annunciation, Mary found out she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus. Mary’s reaction is not one of pride. She does not begin to brag that she has been chosen as Jesus’ mother. She does not expect people to wait on her as the mother of Jesus. Rather, hearing that her relative Elizabeth has also conceived by the grace of God, Mary goes to visit Elizabeth to share their joy at the life in their womb.
As soon as Elizabeth hear’s Mary’s greeting, the infant in her womb, John the Baptist, leaped for joy, and she cried out, “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 Lord should come to me?” Elizabeth, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” recognizes the presence of Jesus in Mary’s womb.
This is only possible by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Remember, Mary had only recently become pregnant. She probably wasn’t even “showing” yet but even if she was, there would have been no way for Elizabeth to know that it was the Messiah in her womb except by faith. Likewise, John, who leaped in his mother Elizabeth’s womb, could not see Mary with human eyes but also reacted with great joy at the presence of Jesus in Mary’s womb.
Do we recognize God’s presence in the things we do? We call the Bible God’s Word but when we listen to the readings, do we treat it as such? Are the stories just nice stories or do we see the stories as telling us about God’s love for his people, his love for us? When we listen to the words of the prophets, do we hear the words only as wise words or do we hear them as God speaking to us?
Do we recognize God’s revelation to us?
I have been reading A History of Apologetics by Cardinal Dulles. In it he traces how the Church has carried out the work of Apologetics (defense of the faith) in different ages since the time of the early Church. One of the frequent topics is the quest of faith and reason. Do we believe only because of faith? What place does reason have in our faith? The importance given to reason changes in different time periods. In the end, I believe reason is always important to help us understand our faith but ultimately faith is a gift.
To illustrate this, let me go back to the fact that from his mother Elizabeth’s womb, John the Baptist recognized the presence of Jesus in Mary’s womb. There is no way this could happen by human sight. He was in Elizabeth’s womb. He could not see Mary. John recognized the presence of Jesus because the Holy Spirit revealed it to him.
We receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Even after the consecration, it still looks like bread and wine. In human terms (reason alone), there is no way to know it is Jesus. We know it is Jesus because he chooses to reveal it to us in his words at the Last Supper when he says “This is my body…This is the my blood of the covenant.” Jesus, thank you for revealing this to us and thank you for the gift of the Eucharist.