Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Visitation - a "girly mystery" revisited

Today is the Feast of the Visitation.

In June of 2004, I posted the following:

When I pray the Joyful Mysteries, I'm sometimes struck by the intensely feminine spirituality of them. Not to the exclusion of men, but there is a special dimension accessible to women's understanding, I think.

One of the most notable is the Mystery of the Visitation. Mary, now pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit, but not married, goes, maybe even flees, to visit her relative Elizabeth in a distant town. Elizabeth, with some surprise, finds herself pregnant at an age where she must have lost hope. So we have two bemused women (holy does not stop bemusement, I'm sure) who come together, who visit.

A beautiful line in Scripture: "the babe in Elizabeth's womb leaped for joy." I have such a vivid picture of two women, laughing, crying, hugging, praising God. Elizabeth was the first to recognize the presence of the Lord in Mary's womb. I am sure Mary found comfort with her cousin, safety, understanding. They also probably did a little cooking, a little sewing, told each other which neckline or hairstyle looked best on the other. Why not? They were women!

Do we recognize the presence of Christ in the hearts of our friends? Do we fully participate in God's particular love for that friend? That can be done in the context of shopping for bathing suits (a chance to exercise the virtue of mercy), or writing out recipes, or gabbing on the phone. Do we want the highest and best for our friends? When we do, I think we know that by observing the results, whether we are yet people of faith or not. But, knowing that Jesus loves you in a very specific way through me, makes me more careful of your soul, more vigilant for your salvation.

How beautiful to be a woman of God.

Wonderful Tom of the wonderful Dominican blog Disputations noted my post and added this:

I only recently became aware of the traditional pious belief that St. Joseph accompanied Mary on her visit. St. Joseph probably accompanied Mary, returned to Nazareth, and when, after three months, he came again to Hebron to take his wife home, the apparition of the angel, mentioned in Matthew 1:19-25, may have taken place to end the tormenting doubts of Joseph regarding Mary's maternity.
I have no firm opinion on the question, but I doubt I'm the only husband who knows his presence when his wife meets a beloved female relative doesn't make the moment any less girly.

Scripture records the conversation in the foreground. The conversation in the background I imagine along these lines:

JOSEPH: Hey, Zechariah.
JOSEPH: The main road through Jerusalem was in pretty bad shape, so we cut over onto that southeast trail at Jericho, you know, the one that goes past Bethany. We made pretty good time.
JOSEPH: Not much traffic, just muddy in spots. But what are you gonna do, this time of year?

Happy feast day! May your soul leap for joy in the presence of the Savior!




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