1st Reading: Zeph 3:14-18a or Rom 12:9-16
Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has removed the judgment against you, he has turned away your enemies; The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear. On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.
Gospel: Lk 1:39-56
Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.” Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
MARY GREETED ELIZABETH: We could look at this event as a prototype of spiritual accompaniment: Mary in whose life God has worked in a powerful way at the annunciation goes to share that experience with another woman in whose life also God has worked in a powerful way. During the encounter, the sign that was given by the angel to Mary that Elizabeth is with child gets verified. And Elizabeth gives a feedback to Mary, “Blessed are you who believed…” At this, Mary’s God experience becomes deep, and now she starts singing. This is a typical pattern in a moment of spiritual direction or spiritual accompaniment. Spiritual accompaniment that is carried out in the light of faith has the capacity to deepen our experience of God. Spiritual Accompaniment then is a very helpful possibility that exists in our tradition.
Prayer: Lord, you have created us in your own image, and you move us towards yourself even through the assistance other human beings.
A CHURCH THAT GOES FORTH: The account of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth contains all the characteristics needed to the missionary Church. Firstly, obedience to the Spirit. Mary has just said yes to the Angel’s annunciation. The Spirit takes possession of her (cf. Lk 1:35) and moves her to come out in mission. Every mission is born out of the initiative of the Spirit which takes possession of the Church. The Church does not own the mission; rather, the mission of bringing life to the world comes the Spirit. Secondly, going forth to the `peripheries´ in solidarity. Mission implies coming out of our comfort zones and visiting and touching the lives of those who are excluded. Mission is, above all, sharing the joy of the Gospel. It is not a condemnation, neither telling that others are wrong. Mission is living the Gospel and spreading to others the happiness which is born from the experience of the Father who embraces all in love.