31 May 2024 -- Visitation of Mary

So 3, 14-18; Rom 12, 9-16; Luke 1, 39-56


          In the first two chapters of his Gospel, Luke introduces us to all the major themes of his Gospel. He demonstrates his deep knowledge of the Old Testament, drawing on it for many of the images he uses in his highly symbolic stories.

          Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth is described with all the imagery of the transport of the Ark of the Covenant described in chapter 6 of the 2nd Book of Samuel. Mary is presented as the new Ark of the Covenant, in which the Lord of Lords dwells; and, just as the first Ark was carried across the mountains of Judah to the house of Obed-Edom of Gath, where it was a source of blessings, so Mary races across the mountains of Judah, carrying the Son of God within her and bringing joy and grace to the house of Elizabeth, her cousin. And just as David had danced before the Ark on that occasion, so John the Baptist moved with joy in his mother Elizabeth's womb before Mary, the new Ark.

          In the rest of the story, Luke tells us that when the time was fulfilled, Mary gave birth to a son, the First-Born - not ‘her first-born’ as most translations say, but ‘the’ First-Born - the First-Born par excellence, that is to say, the First-Born of the eternal Father, the first-born from the dead, the first-born of a multitude of brothers. This is what allows Saint Paul, in his Second Letter to the Corinthians - which we had as our second reading - to say that Christ was raised from the dead as the ‘firstfruits’ of all those who had fallen asleep, so that just as death came through a man, the resurrection was also to come through a man.

          As the first-born of many brothers and sisters, Christ is the first of many to rise. And who is the first human being to be received into glory in this way, if not his own mother, the mother who had carried him to Elizabeth's house to make her Son's forerunner leap for joy, and, making a mockery of time and chronology, had burst into an admirable song of praise?

          This song of praise that Luke puts into Mary's mouth sums up all the songs of praise of the Old Covenant and all those that we too are called to sing, as well as all the songs of praise that will be proclaimed by human voices until the whole multitude of the resurrected have followed their first-born in the way of the resurrection.

With Mary, let us sing the praises of the One who, full of tenderness, like a father or a mother, bends over her little child. Let us make ourselves small and sing the praises of Him who honours the lowly and humble and rejects the proud. Let us make ourselves poor, in heart and in truth, and let us cultivate our thirst for Him, and sing the praises of Him who fills the poor and the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty-handed. And however conscious we may be of our sins, let us put all our hope in Him who promised the abundance of his mercies not only to our father Abraham, but also to all his descendants, of whom we are, by faith.

Armand Veilleux