The Visitation

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Visitation is one of my favorite biblical readings and mysteries of the Rosary. The Angel Gabriel had just announced to Mary, a young virgin, that she would bear the Messiah, the awaited Anointed One of the Jewish people and what does she do? She immediately travels “with haste” to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who is also with child. Her thoughts turn immediately towards those of another expectant mother, perhaps one who may have needed some extra assistance due to her “advanced age”. Perhaps Mary performs this act of charity because she carries the Christ child within her, but I like to think she would have gone to visit Elizabeth regardless. She has such a generous heart, Our Lady. She, like Christ, gives fully and entirely of herself.

Something else that caught my attention in Sunday’s Gospel reading was the mention that Mary traveled to the hill country to see her cousin. The phrase “to the hill country” really struck me because it means that she was traveling through difficult terrain during the early weeks of pregnancy. I remember being newly pregnant and huffing and puffing just to reach the top of the subway stairs. Before I actually found out that I was pregnant, I just thought I was really, really out of shape. (Little science lesson: the extra progesterone in a pregnant woman’s body along with an increased blood flow to the uterus can make breathing a bit more difficult in an expectant mother.) Surely, Mary would have struggled to trek through the hilly landscape and surely it would have caused her to become a little winded while doing so. Yet, she continued, she did not hesitate, despite the difficulty, in order to reach her cousin.

Mary’s generosity is something every woman should try to emulate. Even when we find ourselves in challenging or uncertain times, we should always be ready and willing to give ourselves freely to others. I admit that I could have and should have done more during this pregnancy to reach out to other expectant mothers. Theses last six months or so, I have felt a great tugging on my heart to return to volunteering within the pro-life movement. But selfishly, I have used the excuse that because I’m pregnant now is not really a good time. Where is my “haste”?

Inspired by Sunday’s Gospel reading, I have once again begun to look into volunteering at a local crisis pregnancy center. I found one in particular that offers Mom-to-Mom counseling and I intend to start volunteering there as soon as I get a few months of momhood under my belt. So while perhaps I did not fully utilize the time available to me while I was pregnant, I intend to offer myself more generously in the New Year.

Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “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? 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 the Lord would be fulfilled.”

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