Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Fourth Sunday after Pentecost—2 July AD 2017
Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Ave Maria!

 

 

    Please pray for Charlie Gard, a 10 month old British boy suffering from a rare mitochondrial disease, untreatable in the U.K.  His parents have raised £1.3million to obtain treatment in the U.S., but the U.K. courts won’t let them take their little son out of the hospital!  And they intend to remove the boy from life-support. [1]  Please pray for Charlie and his mother and father!
 

 

“The sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come … for the eager longing of creation awaits the revelation of the sons of God.”[2]

    Today we celebrate the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, and commemorate the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The “Visitation,” of course is the trip that Mary made to visit her cousin Elizabeth, just after the Annunciation that Mary was to become the Mother of the Savior.  The Angel Gabriel informed her that Elizabeth –who was thought to be too old to have a child—was six months pregnant.[3]  A loyal kinswoman, Mary recognized the need for Elizabeth to have the help of a strong young woman (a relative) to help her through the last few months of pregnancy and delivery of her first child.

    This visitation tells us something of the self-less-ness of the Blessed Virgin.  Mary lived in Nazareth and Elizabeth lived with her husband Zachary (a Jewish priest) near the Temple in Jerusalem at a place called Ain Karem—a trip of some ninety miles, through the hill country.  (Today you can make the trip in about two hours if you take the Yitzhak Rabin Highway, Route #6—something like going to Fort Pierce from here on Interstate 95 [4]).  Florida is certainly not “hill country,” but very few of us would even consider walking to Fort Pierce to visit a relative!  Quite likely, in Mary’s time, the route from Nazareth to Ain Karem had more four legged and two legged dangers to face than anything we see on I­95!  Hard to believe that she could do it in anything less than a week.

    Yet, Mary made the trip—and the trip back to Nazareth—because it was the right thing to do.  She thought of the sufferings involved as being small in the eternal scheme of things.  As Saint Paul told us: “The sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come….”  Indeed, Mary had “signed up” for a life of suffering when she agreed with the Angel: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.”[5]  Note that immediately after speaking with the angel she rose up and “went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda”—there was no procrastination.[6]

    We tend to think of “suffering” as something that is out of our control—perhaps pains from an accident, or some limitation imposed on us by a disease, or whatever.  Certainly it is a good thing to accept such sufferings in union with the sufferings of our Lord on our behalf—good to accept them cheerfully, offering them up in penance for our sins.

    But in Mary, we see voluntary suffering—putting up even with great difficulties, because doing so will bring great benefits to other people.  Indeed, such suffering to help others seems to be part of the lives of the saints.  Think of Saint Paul and all of the Apostles—think of the difficulties they endured to bring us the Gospel and the Mass and the Sacraments.  All of them died for their efforts, except Saint John, who was merely boiled in oil!

    And recognize that such heroic suffering did not end with Mary and the Apostles.  The entire history of the Catholic Church is filled with men and women who risked life and limb (and sometimes died) in performing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.  Think of missionaries who leave civilization and its comforts to bring the Faith to people in the various backwaters of the world—Francis Xavier in Asia and India, the North American Martyrs in this country, the Holy Ghost Fathers in Africa come immediately to mind, but there are many others.  Think of those who risked horrible diseases in order to comfort and cure the sick—hospitals are a Catholic invention you know, initially operated by monks and nuns.[7]  Imagine what it must have been like to belong to one of the religious orders who had to negotiate with the Moslems for the ransom of captives—members sometimes willingly entered themselves into captivity in order to have a prisoner released in exchange!

    All of these people—and many others like them—were content to take on difficulties not their own for the love of God, and for the love of neighbor because of their love of God.  They knew that “the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come.…”

    The good news is that we all can participate in this glory.  You don’t have to be a monk or a nun;  you don’t have to go to Africa or India;  you don’t have to give yourself over as ransom in exchange for a captive.  The reality is that everyday life is filled with opportunities for us to take on difficulties to benefit a neighbor for the love of God.  I do hope you will be inspired by and imitate the generosity of the people I have mentioned.  (The Blessed Virgin Mary is always someone to imitate!)

    One last thing:  Saint Paul’s words that “the eager longing of creation awaits the revelation of the sons of God” tells us something important to our day.  When God created the world, He made it a perfect place for sinless Adam and sinless Eve.  When they sinned, creation itself was damaged.  It could no longer be perfect.  This should tell us that any movement to (quote-unquote) “save the planet” is doomed to failure if not undertaken in holiness.  It should tell us that Marxist restrictions on productivity, and Marxist “redistribution” of wealth will fail.  Likewise, the planet will not be helped by eliminating people to make room for snail-darters and spotted owls—certainly not through contraception and abortion.

    The planet will be helped by people loving their neighbor, joining together in prayer, making peace and prosperity for each other.   In his second epistle, Saint Peter describes the separation of the just from the unjust, and the very remaking of creation:

Wherefore, dearly beloved, waiting for these things, be diligent that you may be found before Him unspotted and blameless in peace.

But we look for new heavens and a new earth according to his promises, in which justice dwells. [8]

 

 


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