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  • Writer's pictureFr. Scott Haynes

The Virgin of the Visitation

Fr. Scott Haynes



St. Luke’s Gospel tells us how Our Lady visited St. Elizabeth, who was pregnant with St John the Baptist. Scripture tells us that Mary went with all haste to visit Elizabeth once she learned that Elizabeth was with child in her old age.  This reminds us that Mary is always in a hurry to do good.


In Mary’s Visitation, Jesus’ face was hidden, yet it was wonderfully radiant. Christ was hidden in Mary as He is hidden in the tabernacle. Christ was veiled beneath the purity and beauty of His Mother Mary, just as the tabernacle must be made to be beautiful and kept veiled. But just as Christ made the infant John leap in his mother’s womb so we must be filled with great consolation and joy when we come before the Eucharistic presence of Jesus Christ hidden in the Tabernacle.


The Virgin of the Visitation bears within herself the Human Face of God. She holds it beneath her heart. The joy on Mary's face as she intones her Magnificat is the very joy that shines eternally on the Face of the Word in the presence of the Father. Mary reflects in her very being the joy of Jesus Christ.


St. Paul says,

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus.” [1]

Just as we find the tabernacle lamp lit to remind us of God’s presence so the Virgin Mary was the brightest lamp of Jesus Christ. When Elizabeth saw the light of God coming from Mary she proclaimed,

“And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me?” [2]

In a unique manner, the Virgin Mary, in the mystery of the Visitation, as she bore the Word made flesh in her very womb, became a tabernacle of God Incarnate, “the first tabernacle in history – in which the Son of God, still invisible to our human gaze, allowed himself to be adored by Elizabeth, radiating his light as it were through the eyes and the voice of Mary.” [3]


St. Elizabeth was affected by the light shining from the Face of the hidden Christ, a light which shone through Mary; the same light that radiated from the Face of the Infant Christ in the tabernacle of Mary’s womb shines for us from his Eucharistic Face.


When we gaze upon the Body of Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass or in the monstrance during Eucharistic Adoration, the Holy Face of Jesus streams with light for every darkness, healing for every brokenness, joy for every sorrow, and pardon for every sin. If we receive the Eucharist in a state of grace, fasting, with fervor and with a good disposition then we will make a good Holy Communion. 


The Visitation of Our Lady invites to imitate the faith of Elizabeth who, without seeing it, was illumined by the Human Face of God tabernacled in Mary’s womb. For us the same Human Face of God is hidden beneath the sacramental veils, the appearances of bread and wine. Thus does the Hidden Face of Christ become for us, as it was for Mary and for Elizabeth, the wellspring of joy in God.


Like Our Lady of the Visitation we must each strive to be bright lights of Jesus Christ and never hide the light of Christ under a bushel basket. Today as we come before Our Eucharistic King, let us ask He fill us with His Light and His Love, as we remember what the Infant Christ has taught us:

“The more you honor Me,  the more I will bless thee.”

Notes:

[1] 2 Corinthians 4:6-11.

[2] Luke 1:43.

[3] John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia.

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