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Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary: A foretaste of Heaven
The celebration of the Holy Eucharist today in our Diocesan Seminary here in Melbourne Australia is one of those events that enabled me to have a foretaste of heaven. Truly, every Celebration of the Eucharist is a sharing of the eternal sacrifice in heaven, but today’s Mass confirms it even more. There were nine priests, with a Vietnamese born priest presiding and the concelebrants consist of Australians, Indian and Nigerian. This has even confirmed more by the composition of the congregation. There are over 50 seminarians here as of the moment, representing many countries and continents even. We have Australians, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Sudanese, Nigerian, Italian, Croatian, Indian, Korean, New Zealander, Maltese and Scottish background. Reflecting on this, I felt so privileged to have this foretaste not only of what a Catholic Church really is like,i.e. universal, but also because it has enabled me to have a glimpse of heaven. Heaven is real and it is something I am looking forward to it. Thus, I am one with Mary today in singing “My Soul glorifies the Lord, for he has done great things for me.”
Here is the homily given by Fr Binh Le, the Vocation Director of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, for this feast of the Visitation.
Today, we celebrate the feast of the Visitation, also known to us as the second joyful mystery of the Rosary. The visit of Mary to Elizabeth is not just an ordinary and simple visit between relatives but of two people graced by God in different ways and both are bringing Scripture to fulfillment. Elisabeth is bringing forth John the Baptist, the herald of Christ to Judaism, and Mary will give birth to Jesus, the Saviour of the world.
The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth is more than a simple visit. We were told that Mary stayed with Elisabeth for three months to help her during her pregnancy. Let us reflect briefly on that little detail of three months, which today’s gospel omitted.
There are many paintings and sketches of the Visitation scene which only detail the initial encounter of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. Yet, there are no paintings or sketches of Mary during those three months. She was evidently doing the work, making the meals, keeping things in order; Mary was constantly working behind the scenes.And those three months showed Mary to be a true handmaid of the Lord.
One test of our spirituality is what we do when nobody is watching, when the cameras are turned off and when we don’t feel inspired and motivated. Are we as faithful in private as are we in public? Mary was. The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth highlights Mary’s virtues of charity and humility.
Mary is still helping people behind the scenes in so many ways today. Mary Continues to assist and intercede not only in such well-publicized shrines such as Fatima or Lourdes but also in many ways that will never be known to most of us. I am sure that every parish has people who can recount interventions by Mary, some spectacular and others less so, where Mary’s prayer and intercession became a decisive part of their lives.
In this mystery of the Visitation, we see Mary as a model of genuine care, of quietly and joyfully serving the Lord through others, a model of persistent and hopefulness when facing with difficulties, a model of kindness, of charity and of humility. She is a model for genuine spiritual life which St Paul describes in today’s first reading. And that is why Elizabeth described Mary as ‘the most blessed” of all women.
Today’s feast of the Visitation invites us to seek the grace and the virtue of quiet and joyful service of the Lord through others, which is the real measure of our fidelity to Christ [and] or our growth in maturity of our formation in the seminary.