Today marks the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin to her cousin Elizabeth, with today’s reading from Luke as our source. It is one of the oddest of the odd things about some types of Protestantism that despite the clearest of Gospel accounts that Mary is to be accounted ‘blessed’ in all generations, some Protestants are so disrespectful of her; perhaps it is an anti-Catholic reflex? Perhaps it is a reflection of the patriarchal nature of a Christianity emptied of the veneration which the Church has always given to the Mother of God? Our own Bosco seems to insist God has no mother. That makes him a heretic if he believes it. Jesus is God Incarnate, and Mary gave birth to Him, which is why the Council of Ephesus has pronounced her ‘Theotokos’, or the ‘God bearer’; if Bosco believes Jesus is God, then he must believe Mary, as the mother of Jesus, is the God-bearer, or Mother of God; if he does not believe that then he does not believe Jesus is God and is not a Christian.
We see, here, on the feast of the Visitation, the courage of Our Lady, as well as her compassion. She goes out, alone, to the hill country, to see her much older cousin, Elizabeth, whom all had thought barren; she finds her great with child. Then, in one of the first witnessings to the Christ child in her own womb, John the Baptist leaps in the womb of Elizabeth; the children exult and the mothers exult. Whoever opens his or her heart to the mother, opens it to the Son, and I know that Jessica, on her way to the great shrine of Walsingham, finds in Our Lady a ready path to Christ. Mary is, Elizabeth says, blessed because she believed; Mary is the first believer, the first disciple, the one who gives herself first to her son; she is the model of perfect obedience. Where Zarachias had not believed and had been struck dumb, Our Lady did believe and gave voice to that greatest of hymns which we call ‘the Magnificat’
The source for that, as for all of this part of Luke can only have been Our Lady herself. Luke recorded much eye-witness testimony, and was the one evangelist who took extensive notes from the Blessed Virgin. We see here, in this story, the model of the perfect disciple in her compassion and desire to serve. In her faithfulness she speaks prophetically. All generations will call her blessed, she foretells, and so, at least the generations of the Catholics and the Orthodox have done. Quite how Bible-believing Protestants square their attitude with the words of the Bible itself, I cannot understand – after all, their Bibles contain that prophetic hymn.
Our Lady not only believed in faith and obeyed, she also pondered these things in her heart. She is our model here, too, for we must also receive His word and meditate upon it. If, like her, we can so compose ourselves that we receive what the Lord tells us and obey His holy Word, then our spirit, too, will be filled with His joy, and we can join those who, from that time to this have proclaimed the name of Mary ‘blessed’. Mother of God, mother of us all, pray for us now, and at the hour of our death.