Knights of Columbus Marian Congress Phoenix, AZ August 2009
I. From the very moment …
A. From the very moment the Virgin Mary learned that her cousin, Elizabeth, was with child, Mary hastened through the hill country to be with her. A sinless woman of faith, full attuned to the saving will of God, Mary understood that Elizabeth had conceived a child in her old age not only as a sign of personal favor but indeed as a sign that the advent of the long-awaited Messiah was at hand.
B. Mary, the Mother of the Lord, went in haste. We know little of her journey except that her journey through the hill country could not have been easy. What we know with even greater certainty is that Mary brought Jesus, the fruit of her womb, to Elizabeth’s house. Thus Elizabeth hails the fruit of Mary’s womb and in a moment of profound wonder and awe exclaims: “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
C. Elizabeth was not the only one who rejoiced. The child of her womb, destined to be the Messiah’s herald, leapt for joy in Elizabeth’s womb. In that amazing moment of worship ‘in spirit and in truth’ Mary, steeped in the living word of God, sang the praises of God in words that shall be repeated until the end of time: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!” II. Through the Ages
A. Mary’s Visitation set the pattern for ages to come. Constantly the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church visits her children. At the Lord’s command she came to live with the beloved disciple John. She stayed with the Apostles in the Cenacle as they awaited the Spirit’s coming and she took part in the first Eucharistic celebrations of the newborn Church.
B. Mary has continued to visit her children for two millennia, for she is present to us at every Eucharist, praying with us, praying for us, as “the temple of the Lord” and Mother of the Eucharist, leading us to her crucified and Risen Son, in the Bread of the Life and the Cup of Eternal Salvation. And when we encounter the Eucharistic Lord, it is Mary’s song of praise that inspires and informs the Church’s song of praise, from east to west, from north to south Mary is never far from us when we pray the Rosary, for when we call upon her while mediating on mysteries of the Rosary, we see Christ through her eyes, and thus do we really come to know him. Mary draws close to us when we are tired, discouraged, tempted, or in doubt, she is with us in time of sorrow and suffering. Her pierced heart invites us in our moments of trial to share more deeply in the saving sacrifice her Son offered for us on Calvary.
III. Extraordinary Visits
A. Yes, Mary visits us constantly and remains with us but there are times when, in God’s providential love, her presence is seen and felt. We often think of Mary’s 1858 visitations as a gentle lady to the children at Lourdes, confirming that she is the Immaculate Conception, the pure and spotless vessel of the Lord’s redeeming love. We often think of her 1917 visitation at Fatima during which she entrusted to the merest children the secrets of God’s loving care for his Church in the tumultuous twentieth century.
B. Yet it was Mary’s visitation to St. Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill that, in many ways, was most like her original visit to Elizabeth. Just as Mary had journeyed through the hill country to see Elizabeth, so now she journeyed through the hill country of Mexico to see a poor campesino of no standing. Like Eliazbeth, her aged cousin who was with child, Juan Diego also needed help, not only because he was poor but indeed because his uncle was gravely ill. He was looking for a cure when Mary encountered him. Elizabeth, elated, greeted Mary as the Mother of the Lord. Juan Diego, overcome with joy and wonder, called her “my lady!”, “my daughter!”, “my little Virgin!”
C. As in the original visitation, Mary appears to Juan Diego bearing a child in her womb. She has come to bring the Lord Jesus not merely to a single dwelling but indeed to the Americas – thus giving birth to a new world of faith. In bringing Jesus to the Americas she gave birth to a new people, indeed a new race called “la raza mestiza” – weaving together the Spanish and Indian cultures. She appears in this form before this new race was widespread and in this way Our Lady of Guadalupe made the faith accessible both to the Spanish in the colonies and to the natives. After her visitation, the America were finally evangelized, as massive numbers of people came to know Christ and became member of His Body the Church.
D. Now Mary has visited us again. She comes to us here as a loving mother, seeking to bring forth Christ in us, seeking to make us his agents of evangelization, seeking to make us ardent defenders of life, seeking to draw us ever more deeply into the orbit of Trinitarian love. May our soul proclaim the praises of the Lord! May our spirit rejoice in the presence of our Savior, And thus may we proclaim his Name with the convincing power of the New Evangelization.