- The Abbey of the Genesee - http://www.geneseeabbey.org -

May 31, 2017

Fr. Gerard D’Souza, OCSO [1]

7th Monday of Easter Time
Feast of Our Blessed Mother’s Visitation

In the mystery of the Annunciation, the Blessed Mother is visited by the angel Gabriel. The whole encounter is wrapped in the transcendent light heaven. He greets Mary as one full of grace and blessed among all women. He tells her that she will conceive and bear a son who will be son of the Most High God. Mary surrenders herself to this transcendent mystery. But she does not break into song. It is as if the Annunciation brings in the Cross with its incomprehensibility. Mary can only submit but is so overwhelming that there is no canticle.

It is the tenderness of the Holy Spirit, the Consoler, who drives Mary not into the desert but towards the encounter with another human being, her cousin, another woman who, like her, is pregnant. And there is a reversal here. Mary enters like Gabriel into the house of Zechariah but instead it is Elizabeth who will be the instrument of the second Annunciation to Mary. Mary is the most blessed among women. She is the mother of the Lord. Elizabeth repeats what the angel said to Mary. And Elizabeth confirms the faith of Mary telling her that she is blessed because she believed that what the Lord had spoken would be fulfilled. Mary is not able to score herself. But Elizabeth by announcing in a delicate manner, Mary’s pregnancy, is telling her that she really believed. Mary could not get outside herself to measure this. She submitted in the darkness of faith. Now, another human being confirms this for Mary through the tenderness of the Spirit. And finally Mary breaks into her Canticle of joy.

Until then, Mary is overwhelmed by the transcendent mystery that overshadows her at the Annunciation of Gabriel. She is wrapped in silence and the words will not flow forth. Only when the transcendent is humanized in the annunciation of Elizabeth, then the stone is rolled away and her joy bursts forth. Until the mystery acquired both its dimensions – divine and human – Mary cannot break into song.

Christianity is not Neoplatonism. There is no access to God by sheer verticality. Since God has become flesh, the human is not a barrier but the doorway to God. We see this in the mystery of the Visitation. The mystery must acquire its human proportions before Mary breaks into song. So it is with us. Our insertion into the Church and communion, is not a ball and chain on our Neoplatonic feet. As if we would soar more surely into the stratosphere if we were free of the other. Actually the mystery must be refracted through the human dimensions of our life with others in order for it to take flesh in us as well.