Monday, May 31, 2010

My Soul Proclaims The Greatness Of The Lord. He Has Remembered His Promise Of Mercy.

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Reading I
Zephaniah 3:14-18a

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has removed the judgment against you,
he has turned away your enemies;
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.
On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
He will sing joyfully because of you,
as one sings at festivals.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Isaiah 12
Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
+++     +++    +++    +++   
Luke 1:39-56
Mary set out and traveled
to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“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?
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.”

And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.
Today we celebrate the second joyful mystery of the rosary, the Visitation, when Mary, herself newly pregnant, travels in haste to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who is about to bear a son, John the Baptist. It's always been my favorite of these mysteries of the Hidden Life. I don't know exactly why. Perhaps it's because it is about something we do all our lives: visit and get visited. Such occasions can be very graced, special, instructive, and consoling, if we only have eyes to see and ears to hear. I think of a line in a folk song of Kathy Mattea several years ago: "He keeps sending me angels ... just like you."

The readings are stunningly beautiful! The passage from the prophet Zephaniah paints such a strong picture of our need to shout for joy, because of what God keeps doing for us, that one can scarcely read it without being lifted up. It makes you want to dance for joy! Because it isn't so much about our rejoicing in God, but about God's rejoicing over us with gladness and singing joyfully because of us! Imagine that!

The response from another prophet, Isaiah, is even more powerfully upbeat because it spells out more clearly the reason for our hope.. A way of praying that I recommend today is to slowly and repeatedly read this passage in light of how we have experienced salvation, why we have every reason to be "confident and unafraid," since "our strength and our courage is our savior." Then, "with joy we will draw water at the fountain of salvation."

Finally, we have the story of Mary's trip to the hill country for the purpose of encouraging, supporting, and helping her cousin, Elizabeth. What a dramatic greeting! What an extraordinary visit! Mary herself doesn't even have to tell Elizabeth that she too is pregnant. Elizabeth felt it in her own womb, as her infant leaped for joy. Filled with the Holy Spirit, her words of humble and joyful praise ring out for us down through the years: "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?" Think of how often her words have been repeated down through the centuries!

Then comes Mary's own ecstatic hymn of praise, which we still rightly call the Magnificat. It's a perfect prayer of Thanksgiving, and it continues to inspire us all, generation after generation. Repeating this prayer of Mary is my final suggestion for praying this joyful mystery, as we say to our God: "Keep us open to the working of your Spirit, and with Mary may we praise you forever."
Creighton University Daily Reflections
Bert Thelen, S.J.
St. John's Parish

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