August 15, 2021 at Saint Peter and Saint William Churches in Naples, FL
Revelation 11, 19, – 12, 1-6 + Psalm 45 + 1 Corinthians 15, 20-27 + Luke 1, 39-56
We have two examples set before us today by the Blessed Virgin. They are not provided to have us sit back in admiration, but rather to inspire and motivate us in our response to the Word of God made flesh.
The first example is what Mary does. Her way of responding to the favor God has shown her sends her to Elizabeth an old woman who is with child, someone in need of company, of presence, and of help. She does not sit at home enjoying the favors of God. She knows that those favors come with some expectations, some duty. There is a way of looking at this visitation that suggests she is taking the incarnate Christ to someone in need. The visitation between these two women happens because of previous visitation between an angel and Mary. Someone visited by God will visit another. Someone favored by God will take that favor to another.
The second example is what Mary says. Her response and greeting to Elizabeth provide us with a model of prayer that is without equal. Again, not for admiration, but for imitation. Joy almost explodes from her lips. Joy is the only possible response any of us could have when we recognize how favored we are by God, how willingly and generously God has been revealed to us and given us the gift of faith that always seeks the will of God before all things. Mary is not the only one favored by God. She is just the first. Her prayer reflects on her life, and it praises God and acknowledges God’s presence and work among us. In her prayer there are echoes of God’s passion for Justice and his promise of Mercy. She asks for nothing because she needs nothing so completely has God taken flesh in her life.
As the whole church this day honors her memory with this feast, this church must also learn from her how to be open to the Word of God, how to receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit that overshadows us all, how to see the needs of others and act in their favor. This church that is you and me can offer no better prayer than the joyful praise of God and the acknowledgement of God’s deeds among us. This church that gathers on this day must do so with sincere humility because we don’t deserve God’s favor and cannot earn it.
What Elizabeth says to Mary at the moment of their meeting can still be said of us: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Remember what has been spoken to us by the Lord. Remember what was said to a thief suffering and near death. It is the promise that we see in the Assumption of Mary. It is the promise that Blessed people of faith can expect to be fulfilled: “Today you will be with me in Paradise”.