Today, May 31, closing the month, we celebrate the feast of the Visitation of Mary.
It is in Elizabeth’s house where the encounter of two stories that intertwine takes place: the People of Israel, waiting for the coming of the Messiah, and the New People that begins with Jesus, his disciples.
At that time, it was normal that more mature women with experience in having given birth to many children, attend to the women with less experience, mothers making their first journey, to give them the necessary assistance, before and after birth.
Luke, in narrating this fact, shows us a different, innovative situation. He presents Elizabeth as needing the help of Mary, a young woman, who had no experience with childbirth, nor with children, because she was not married and lived in a region different from that of her cousin. What would then be the meaning of this trip?
Mary gets up and goes “in haste” to the encounter with Elizabeth. This attitude reminds us of the shepherds who left “hastily” to see the child who was born. Mary goes in search of her cousin, to help, to assist, but, above all, to share her joy.
But what is the hurry? That rush is not to be understood as stress or the running around of people who move from one place to another. That rush has another meaning: it is the demonstration of the desire and the generosity to share joy, to witness to the creative action of God and to be in solidarity with the situation of one’s equals.
Arriving at the house of her cousin, a simple greeting provokes changes: “the creature leaped for joy in her womb”. Joy springs from the manifestation of the Holy Spirit which envelops those two pregnant women. “Happy are you who believed”. That “shaken” enthusiasm is transformed into a beautiful song of praise to God, recalling the action of the Lord in the life of Mary and the history of her people: “The Lord has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”
Mary goes to the encounter with Elizabeth to deepen and meditate, through dialogue, the knowledge acquired with the message brought by the angel. Her trip carries a symbolism: faith needs to be witnessed, shared and put to service.
May the movement of Mary, in going to encounter her cousin, enkindle the desire in us, upon experiencing the wonders that God does in us, to encounter others “hastily”, to announce to them these wonders, to testify to the active presence of God in our history, and to put ourselves in service generously, facilitating the experience of God’s mercy to others.
May we let ourselves be infected by the joy that these two women give us with their gestation. And that, in the light of that encounter, we may give meaning to and cultivate quality encounters around us.
Today, coincidentally, we celebrate the birth of Juana Josefa, our beloved St. Candida. Another encounter of life. Encounter of divine grace with a humble family of weavers – Juan Miguel and Maria Jesus – in the small town of Andoain, in Spain: May 31, 1845.
Encounter of divine grace, donor of life and of the human family, generating life. On that day, the little Juana Josefa, eldest daughter of the family, comes to light. The family “leaps” with joy. They did not know that that birth would lead to other births for the life of the Church; many and final encounters: a congregation of sisters and daughters united by the charism to announce the paternal / maternal face of God … an increasing integration of lay people, in communion with the Daughters of Jesus in different contexts and situations .. . an immensity of children, adolescents and young people of diverse cultures and social classes … another immensity of families, alumni and alumnae committed to the gestation of a new humanity …
Like Mary at the Visitation, and Mother Candida at birth, we want to share the joy of the double familial celebration, born of a visit: that of God. We want to bear witness to everyone that He continues to do great things for us. We want to be always available to service in solidarity, to continue bringing about a new humanity of SONS AND BROTHERS.
Maria José Alves Machado FI