Our Lady of the Visitation

Homily of Fr. Herbert Nicholls

Mary is on a journey. She set off in haste to the hill country to the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Upon her arrival Elizabeth had no need for an explanation. She understood the meaning of the visit and who was entering her house. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Only by the light of the Holy Spirit could one recognize the One who, by the work of the Holy Spirit, was conceived in the Virgin’s womb. Only by the light of the Holy Spirit can the Son and the Mother be recognized: How does it happen that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?

Then Mary begins to speak. The Mystery which she bore within herself is expressed: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness."
This joy projects itself into the future, from generation to generation; what great things the Almighty has done in Mary and through Mary have begun and will endure forever. Could this humble handmaid say of herself: All generations shall call me blessed? Could she have made such a claim? Yes, because these words were inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth. They would be fulfilled because they are words of the Spirit of Truth. And Truth is always humble.

Mary is on a journey. She set off in haste toward the hill country to take care of her kinswoman who was soon to give birth. For the first time Mary is seen as protectress. From the cross on Golgotha to the Cenacle at Pentecost her protection will extend in a discreet yet effective manner. It will extend over the Church, over nations, over every man, woman and child.    

Holy is the Name of the One who through the Cross revealed His infinite love, the love of God who became man so as to save mankind. On the Cross, He showed the might of His arm which raises up the lowly, and scatters the proud in the conceit of their hearts.

Holy Mother, you who believe, renew the faith of individuals and peoples who are tempted to yield to the spirit of moral indifference. Let waves of divine wisdom wave over the kegs of old wine. Let wisdom be born. May this wisdom enable each person to embrace not only what is visible and finite, but also the invisible and infinite; not merely what is temporal and destined for destruction but also the Eternal and Immortal.

You, O Mary, who especially became God’s dwelling place among men; in whom this Wisdom became flesh and blood never abandon this dwelling place, never abandon God. The world in its present form is passing away; but is it passing away never to return? You O Mother of the God-Man, already contemplate a new heaven and a new earth; the holy city, the new Jerusalem come down from heaven as a bride adorned for her husband. You see it. You already saw it in this world in your pilgrimage of faith. You see it now in God’s eternal dwelling. You are like the revelation and sign of the heavenly dwelling for us here on earth. He will dwell with them and they will be His people and God will always dwell with them.

Seat of wisdom, Mother of the Eternal Word, hasten once again to the many cities, countries, to every part of the world as you once hurried to your cousin Elizabeth. Set off again on a journey, a pilgrimage of faith that today’s men and women might recognize you and your Son.

Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. How does this happen that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? How does it happen to you and to me—faith. Come, O Mother of the Lord. Journey with us O Mary; intercede for us, Mother of God. Amen.