Posts Tagged ‘the child jump with joy in Elizabeth’s womb’

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, May 31, 2014 — “More blessed still are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

May 30, 2014


Elizabeth (left) visited by Mary, the Visitation, by Philippe de Champaigne

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Lectionary: 572

Reading 1 zep 3:14-18a


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.

or rom 12:9-16


Brothers and sisters:
Let love be sincere;
hate what is evil,
hold on to what is good;
love one another with mutual affection;
anticipate one another in showing honor.
Do not grow slack in zeal,
be fervent in spirit,
serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope,
endure in affliction,
persevere in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the holy ones,
exercise hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you,
bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice,
weep with those who weep.
Have the same regard for one another;
do not be haughty but associate with the lowly;
do not be wise in your own estimation.


Responsorial Psalm is 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6


R. (6) Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
R. Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R. Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.

Gospel lk 1:39-56


Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could into the hill country to a town in Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth.

Now it happened that as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? Look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;
because he has looked upon the humiliation of his servant. Yes, from now onwards all generations will call me blessed,
for the Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name,
and his faithful love extends age after age to those who fear him.
He has used the power of his arm, he has routed the arrogant of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones and raised high the lowly.
He has filled the starving with good things, sent the rich away empty.
He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his faithful love
-according to the promise he made to our ancestors — of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.
Mary stayed with her some three months and then went home.


The feast of the Visitation recalls to us the following great truths and events: The visit of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin Elizabeth shortly after the Annunciation; the cleansing of John the Baptist from original sin in the womb of his mother at the words of Our Lady’s greeting; Elizabeth’s proclaiming of Mary—under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost—as Mother of God and “blessed among women”; Mary’s singing of the sublime hymn, Magnificat (“My soul doth magnify the Lord”) which has become a part of the daily official prayer of the Church. The Visitation is frequently depicted in art, and was the central mystery of St. Francis de Sales’ devotions.

The Mass of today salutes her who in her womb bore the King of heaven and earth, the Creator of the world, the Son of the Eternal Father, the Sun of Justice. It narrates the cleansing of John from original sin in his mother’s womb. Hearing herself addressed by the most lofty title of “Mother of the Lord” and realizing what grace her visit had conferred on John, Mary broke out in that sublime canticle of praise proclaiming prophetically that henceforth she would be venerated down through the centuries:

“My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me, and holy is His name” (Lk. 1:46).

—Excerpted from the Cathedral Daily Missal

This feast is of medieval origin, it was kept by the Franciscan Order before 1263, and soon its observance spread throughout the entire Church. Previously it was celebrated on July 2. Now it is celebrated between the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord and the birth of St. John the Baptist, in conformity with the Gospel accounts. Some places appropriately observe a celebration of the reality and sanctity of human life in the womb. The liturgical color is white.

According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Petronilla. The feast of the Queenship of Mary is now celebrated in the Ordinary Rite on August 22.

Aurelia Petronilla was guided in the Faith by St. Peter, the first pope. She died three days after refusing to marry a pagan nobleman, Flaccus. There is no historic proof that she was martyred, but an early fresco clearly represents her as a martyr. Her feast is no longer on the calendar.

The Visitation
And Mary rising up in those days went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda. [Lk. 1:39]

How lyrical that is, the opening sentence of St. Luke’s description of the Visitation. We can feel the rush of warmth and kindness, the sudden urgency of love that sent that girl hurrying over the hills. “Those days” in which she rose on that impulse were the days in which Christ was being formed in her, the impulse was his impulse.

Many women, if they were expecting a child, would refuse to hurry over the hills on a visit of pure kindness. They would say they had a duty to themselves and to their unborn child which came before anything or anyone else.

The Mother of God considered no such thing. Elizabeth was going to have a child, too, and although Mary’s own child was God, she could not forget Elizabeth’s need—almost incredible to us, but characteristic of her.

She greeted her cousin Elizabeth, and at the sound of her voice, John quickened in his mother’s womb and leapt for joy.

I am come, said Christ, that they may have life and may have it more abundantly. [Jn. 10, 10] Even before He was born His presence gave life.

With what piercing shoots of joy does this story of Christ unfold! First the conception of a child in a child’s heart, and then this first salutation, an infant leaping for joy in his mother’s womb, knowing the hidden Christ and leaping into life.

How did Elizabeth herself know what had happened to Our Lady? What made her realize that this little cousin who was so familiar to her was the mother of her God?

She knew it by the child within herself, by the quickening into life which was a leap of joy.

If we practice this contemplation taught and shown to us by Our Lady, we will find that our experience is like hers.

If Christ is growing in us, if we are at peace, recollected, because we know that however insignificant our life seems to be, from it He is forming Himself; if we go with eager wills, “in haste,” to wherever our circumstances compel us, because we believe that He desires to be in that place, we shall find that we are driven more and more to act on the impulse of His love.

And the answer we shall get from others to those impulses will be an awakening into life, or the leap into joy of the already wakened life within them.

Excerpted from The Reed of God, Caryll Houselander

Patronage: St. Elizabeth: Expectant mothers.

Symbols: St. Elizabeth or Elisabeth: Pregnant woman saluting the Virgin; Elderly woman holding St. John Baptist; huge rock with a doorway in it; in company with St. Zachary.
St. Zacharias or Zachary: Priest’s robes; thurible; altar; angel; lighted taper; Phyrgian helmet.


“Visitation”, from Altarpiece of the Virgin (St Vaast Altarpiece) by Jacques Daret, c. 1435 (Staatliche Museen, Berlin)



Lectio Divina from the Carmelites

• Today is the Feast of the Visitation of the Virgin, and the Gospel narrates the visit of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. When Luke speaks of Mary, he thinks of the communities of his time which lived dispersed in the cities of the Roman Empire and offers to them, Mary as a model of how they should relate to the Word of God. Once, hearing Jesus speak about God, a woman in the crowd exclaimed: “Blessed the womb that bore you and the breasts that fed you”, praising the mother of Jesus.


Immediately Jesus answered: “More blessed still are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Lk 11, 27-28). Mary is the model of the faithful community which knows how to live and practice the Word of God. In describing the visit of Mary to Elizabeth, he teaches how the communities should act in order to transform the visit of God into service of the brother and sisters.

• The episode of the visit of Mary to Elizabeth also shows another typical aspect of Luke. All the words and the attitudes, especially the Canticle of Mary, form a great celebration of praise. It seems to be a description of a solemn Liturgy. Thus, Luke evokes the liturgical and celebrative environment, in which Jesus was formed and in which the communities should live their own faith.

• Luke 1, 39-40: Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Luke stresses the haste with which Mary responds to the demands of the Word of God. The Angel spoke to her about the pregnancy of Elizabeth and Mary, immediately, rises in order to verify what the Angel had announced, she goes out of the house to help a person in need. From Nazareth to the mountain of Judah there are about 100 kilometres! There were no buses or trains!

• Luke 1, 41-44: The greeting of Elizabeth. Elizabeth represents the Old Testament which ends. Mary, the New One which is beginning. The Old Testament welcomes, accepts the New One with gratitude and trust, recognizing in it the gratuitous gift of God which comes to realize and to complete whatever expectation people had. In the encounter of the two women, is manifested the gift of the Spirit which makes the child jump with joy in Elizabeth’s womb.


The Good News of God reveals his presence in one of the most common things of human life: two housewives who exchange the visit to help one another. A visit, joy, pregnancy, children, reciprocal help, house, family: Luke wants to make the communities (and all of us) understand and discover the presence of the Kingdom. The words of Elizabeth, up until now, form part of the best known and most recited Psalm in the world, which is the Hail Mary.

• Luke 1, 45: The praise which Elizabeth makes of Mary. “Blessed is she who believed that the promise made by the Lord would be fulfilled”. This is Luke’s advice to the communities: to believe in the Word of God, because it has the force to realize what it says. It is a creative Word. It generates a new life in the womb of a virgin, in the womb of the poor and abandoned people who accept it with faith.

• Luke 1, 46-56: The canticle of Mary. Most probably, this canticle was already known and sung in the Communities. It teaches how it should be prayed and sung. Luke 1, 46-56: Mary begins proclaiming the change which has come about in her life under the loving look of God, full of mercy. This is why she sings joyfully: “My spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour”. Luke 1, 51-53: she sings the fidelity of God toward his people and proclaims the change which the arm of Yahweh is bringing about in behalf of the poor and the hungry.


The expression “arm of God” recalls the liberation of the Exodus. It is this saving force of God which gives life to the change: he has routed the arrogant of heart (1, 51), he has pulled down princes from their thrones and raised high the lowly (1, 52), he has sent the rich away empty, and has filled the starving with good things (1, 53). Luke 1, 54-55: at the end, she recalls that all that is the expression of God’s mercy toward his people and an expression of his fidelity to the promises made to Abraham. The Good News is not a response to the observance of the Law, but the expression of the goodness and the fidelity of God to the promises made. That is what Paul taught in the letters to the Galatians and to the Romans.

The second Book of Samuel tells the story of the Ark of the Covenant. David wants to put in his own house, but he is frightened and says: “How can the Ark of Yahweh come to be with me?” (2 S 6, 9). Then David ordered that the Ark be placed in the house of Obed-Edom. And the Ark of Yahweh remained three months in the house of Obed-Edom, and the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and his whole family” (2 S 6, 11). Mary, waiting for Jesus, is like the Ark of the Covenant which, in the Old Testament, visited the houses of the persons granting benefits. She goes to Elizabeth’s house and remained there three months. And while she is in Elizabeth’s house, the whole family is blessed by God. The community should be like the New Ark of the Covenant. Visiting the house of the persons, it should take benefits and the grace of God to the people.

Personal questions

• What prevents us from discovering and living the joy of God’s presence in our life?

• Where and how does the joy of the presence of God take place today in my life and in that of the community?

Concluding Prayer

Bless Yahweh, my soul, from the depths of my being,
his holy name;
bless Yahweh, my soul,
never forget all his acts of kindness. (Ps 103,1-2)



Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore



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What does it take to be a true Christian?  Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical “God is Love”, states that “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”  In the light of this definition, the scripture readings invite us to examine the depth of our relationship with the Lord.

The first group of Catholics who have a deficient faith belongs to those who are ignorant about their Faith.   Unfortunately, many of us Catholics do not take the trouble to deepen our understanding of the faith.  We do not read the scriptures daily, much less explore further our knowledge of the Church’s doctrines and practices.  For many of us, the last time we received any proper instructions on our faith was in RCIA class.  This is ironical because in the corporate world today, one cannot survive in any industry without upgrading one’s knowledge to keep pace with the changing world.   We make time for all kinds of courses, even those not related to our work, but we have no time for our spiritual growth.  We do not realize that understanding our faith better will determine the way we live our lives meaningfully and holistically.

The second group of Catholics is slightly better than the first. They are the intellectuals.  They do make some effort to study about their faith.  They are akin to Apollos in the first reading.  He was an Alexandrian Jew and a good model of what a Christian should be.  We read that “he was an eloquent man, with a sound knowledge of the scriptures.”  He had also “been given instruction in the Way of the Lord and preached with great earnestness and was accurate in all the details he taught about Jesus.”  So this man seems to be knowledgeable in his faith and at the same time, evangelical as well in reaching out to those who do not know Jesus.

Yet, in spite of Apollos’ great enthusiasm, “he had only experienced the baptism of John.”  In other words, he never had a real personal encounter with the Lord Jesus.  He had not yet received the Holy Spirit, which is given only in baptism.  The baptism of John the Baptist was only for the forgiveness of sins but not sufficient for the reception of the Holy Spirit, the personal love of God the Father and the Son.  This observation is very significant for us too.  Again, although many of us Catholics may appear to be knowledgeable in our faith, we lack a personal encounter with Jesus.  We have only fallen in love with the ideas inherent in the Christian Faith, but not with the person of Christ.

This explains why the focus of the scripture texts, especially the gospel immediately following the feast of the Ascension, is on the coming of the Holy Spirit. It is necessary that Catholics become conscious of the Holy Spirit and be in touch with His indwelling if they are to encounter the Lord Jesus as a person, and not simply as a historical figure but as the risen Lord. It was for this reason that Jesus remarked with disappointment that His disciples had yet to ask “the Father in my name … Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.”

But what is it that we are to ask?  Above all things, we must ask for the Holy Spirit because it is a gift given by the Father in the name of the Son.  Only the Holy Spirit can give us true joy, since joy comes from love.  With the Holy Spirit in us, we will come to know the nature of God who is Love.  Indeed, Jesus assured His disciples, “I have told you this in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures but I will tell you clearly about the Father.”   Only the Holy Spirit can reveal to us the meaning of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.  Without the Holy Spirit, the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus would remain extraneous to us.  But with the Holy Spirit, we will enter into the Spirit of Jesus and become identified with Him in His love for the Father and for humanity.  Only then can we truly experience the love of the Father, and only this love can empower us to love ourselves and our fellow human beings.

It is this identification with Jesus which brings about our union with the Father that is the basis for all our prayers to be answered.  For when we pray, we will be praying in union with Jesus and for the world.  Jesus said, “On that day you will ask in my name, and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you. For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God.”  When we are in Jesus and He is with us in the Holy Spirit, the Father will hear us, the Body of Christ, praying and interceding for the world.  Jesus, who is one with the Father, is also one with us, His body, in prayer.  Yes, He said, “I came from the Father and have come into the world. Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

Today, we are invited to imitate the docility and humility of Apollos.  In spite of his knowledge about the faith, he was never too proud to learn from Priscilla and Aquila.  Apollos was humble enough to accept correction and instruction.  He never felt he knew too much, unlike many of us Catholics who do not feel the urgency to renew our faith, even though we cannot even remember the basic teachings of the Church or the scriptures.

But most of all, we must be like Apollos who sought the Holy Spirit after becoming aware that the baptism of John the Baptist was not sufficient.  He knew that without a deep awareness of the personal love of God in his life, which is only possible through an encounter with the Holy Spirit, he could not be a real witness of the Lord, nor perform signs and wonders to demonstrate the power of the Risen Lord. But because he was docile and humble, not only did the Holy Spirit work in and through him, but many of his fellow Christians also came to his help, welcomed him and rendered him support and encouragement.

If we find ourselves weak in faith or ineffective in proclaiming the Good News, we must sincerely examine whether we are receptive to the Holy Spirit, directly or indirectly through our fellow brothers and sisters.  More often than not, it is the lack of humility and recognition of the poverty of our personal and intellectual faith that hinder us from knowing Jesus intimately and allowing His Spirit to work freely in and through us.  Today, let us humble ourselves and pray for the Holy Spirit to renew our lives, and if necessary, seek the assistance of those who have already encountered Him so that we too can experience a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Be open to the Holy Spirit!

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