Thứ Ba, 30 tháng 5, 2017

MAY 31, 2017 : FEAST OF THE VISITATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

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

Reading 1ZEP 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.

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 PsalmISAIAH 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.

AlleluiaSEE LK 1:45
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary, who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 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 for ever."

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.


Meditation: Joyful Anticipation of the Messiah
Do you recognize the indwelling presence of the Lord Jesus in your life? Blessed are you if you see and recognize the Lord with the "eyes of faith". The word "blessed" [makarios in Greek] literally means "happiness" or "beatitude". It describes a kind of joy which is serene and untouchable, self-contained, and independent from chance and changing circumstances of life. 

God gives us supernatural joy with hope in his promises
There is a certain paradox for those "blessed" by the Lord. Mary was given the "blessedness" of being the mother of the Son of God. That blessedness also would become a sword which pierced her heart as her Son died upon the cross. Anselm, a great teacher and Archbishop of Canterbury (1033-1109), spoke these words in a homily: "Without God's Son nothing could exist; without Mary's son, nothing could be redeemed."  To be chosen by God is an awesome privilege and responsibility. Mary received both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. Her joy was not diminished by her sorrow because it was fueled by her faith, hope, and trust in God and his promises. 
Jesus promised his disciples that "no one will take your joy from you" (John 16:22). The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which enables us to bear any sorrow or pain and which neither life nor death can take away. Do you know the joy of a life given over to God in faith and trust?
They were filled with the Holy Spirit
What is the significance of Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth before the birth of Jesus? When Elizabeth greeted Mary and recognized the Messiah in Mary's womb they were filled with the Holy Spirit and with a joyful anticipation of the fulfillment of God's promise to give a Savior. What a marvelous wonder for God to fill not only Elizabeth's heart with his Holy Spirit but the child in her womb as well. John the Baptist, even before the birth of the Messiah, pointed to his coming and leaped for joy in the womb of his mother as the Holy Spirit revealed to him the presence of the King to be born. 
The Lord wants to fill each of us with his Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is God's gift to us to enable us to know and experience the indwelling presence of God and the power of his kingdom. The Holy Spirit is the way in which God reigns within each of us. Do you live in the joy and knowledge of God's indwelling presence with you through his Holy Spirit?
"Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and give me joy in seeking you more earnestly. Increase my faith in all your promises, my hope in the joy of heaven, and my love for You as my All."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersJohn prophecies from the womb, by Maximus of Turin (died between 408-423 AD)
"Not yet born, already John prophesies and, while still in the enclosure of his mother's womb, confesses the coming of Christ with movements of joy - since he could not do so with his voice. As Elizabeth says to holy Mary, 'As soon as you greeted me, the child in my womb exulted for joy.' John exults, then, before he is born. Before his eyes can see what the world looks like, he can recognize the Lord of the world with his spirit. In this regard, I think that the prophetic phrase is appropriate: 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you came forth from the womb I sanctified you' (Jeremiah 1:5). Thus we ought not to marvel that after Herod put him in prison, he continued to announce Christ to his disciples from his confinement, when even confined in the womb he preached the same Lord by his movements." (excerpt from SERMON 5.4)

FEAST OF THE VISITATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
WEDNESDAY, MAY 31, LUKE 1:39-56

(Zephaniah 3:14-18a or Romans 12:9-16; Psalm 33)

KEY VERSE: "Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled" (v 45).
TO KNOW: Mary was accorded the greatest honor and privilege given to a Jewish woman, that of being the mother of the long-awaited Messiah (Jesus). The sign of God's promise was that her barren kinswoman Elizabeth had conceived a son in her old age (John the Baptist). Mary was the obedient servant of the Lord, and she traveled the four day journey to the hill country of Judah (traditionally Ein Karem) to assist her kinswoman. Upon hearing Mary's greeting, the babe within Elizabeth's womb leaped for joy. Elizabeth was astonished that Mary, the mother of her Lord, should come to her. Her words echoed King David's wonderment when the Arc of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem: "How can the ark of the Lord come to me?" (2 Sm 6:9, 14). Mary was the Arc of the New Covenant bearing her divine son in her womb. Elizabeth proclaimed that Mary was blessed because she trusted that the Lord's words to her would be fulfilled.
TO LOVE: In what ways can I follow Mary's example of joyful obedience?
TO SERVE: Mary my mother, help me to have faith in God's promises to me.
 


Wednesday 31 May 2017

Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Zephaniah 3:14-18 / Romans 12:9-16. Isaiah 12:2-6. Luke 1:39-56.
Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel — Isaiah 12:2-6. Luke 1:39-56.
‘Of all women, you are the most blessed.’
Joys are always greater when shared. Anyone who hears good news immediately sets about to tell others. If it is partly secret, we seek out a special friend with whom to share the news. So too Mary wants to share her joy. She sets out with haste to the hill country to be with another woman of faith, her cousin Elizabeth. Both are to be mothers and each is especially blessed with a great promise.
We too have been given promises. We share a common faith and share God’s presence among us. We can use Mary’s words to state how we have been blessed by the Lord.
Today, as we visit or are visited by neighbours, we might share some of the joy Mary and Elizabeth felt as friends of the great and holy one of Israel.

FEAST OF THE VISITATION OF THE VIRGIN MARY

Assuming that the Annunciation and the Incarnation took place around the time of the vernal equinox, Mary left Nazareth at the end of March and went over the mountains to Hebron, south of Jerusalem, to wait upon her cousin Elizabeth. Because Mary's presence, and even more the presence of the Divine Child in her womb, according to the will of God, was to be the source of very great graces to the Blessed John, Christ's Forerunner. (Lk1:39-57).
Feeling the presence of his Divine Saviour, John, upon the arrival of Mary, leaped for joy in the womb of his mother; at that moment he was cleansed from original sin and filled with the grace of God. Our Lady now, for the first time, exercised the office which belonged to the Mother of God made man: that He might, by her mediation, sanctify and glorify us. St. Joseph probably accompanied Mary, returned to Nazareth, and when, after three months, he came again to Hebron to take his wife home, the apparition of the angel, mentioned in Mt 1:19-25, may have taken place to end the tormenting doubts of Joseph regarding Mary's maternity.
The earliest evidence of the existence of the feast is its adoption by the Franciscan Chapter in 1263, upon the advice of St. Bonaventure. The list of feasts in the "Statuta Synodalia eccl. Cenomanensis", according to which this feast was kept July 2 at Le Mans in 1247, may not be genuine. With the Franciscan Breviary this feast spread to many churches, but was celebrated at various dates-at Prague and Ratisbon, April 28, in Paris June 27, and at Reims and Geneva, on July 8. It was extended to the entire Church by Urban VI on April 6, 1389 (Decree published by Boniface IX, 9 Nov., 1389), with the hope that Christ and His Mother would visit the Church and put an end to the Great Schism which rent the seamless garment of Christ.
The feast, with a vigil and an octave, was assigned to July 2, the day after the octave of St. John, about the time when Mary returned to Nazareth. The Office was drawn up by an Englishman, Adam Cardinal Easton, Benedictine monk and Bishop of Lincoln. Dreves has published this rhythmical office with nine other offices for the same feast, found in the Breviaries of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
Since, during the Schism, many bishops of the opposing obedience would not adopt the new feast, it was confirmed by the Council of Basle, in 1441. Pius V abolished the rhythmical office, the vigil, and the octave. The present office was compiled by order of Clement VIII by the Minorite Ruiz. Pius IX, on May 13, 1850, raised the feast to the rank of a double of the second class.
Many religious orders -- the Carmelites, Dominicans, Cistercians, Mercedarians, Servites, and others -- as well as Siena, Pisa, Loreto, Vercelli, Cologne, and other dioceses have retained the octave. In Bohemia the feast is kept on the first Sunday of July as a double of the first class with an octave.

LECTIO DIVINA: VISITATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
Lectio Divina: 
 Wednesday, May 31, 2017

1) OPENING PRAYER
Lord our God, loving Father,
Mary went with haste to visit
her cousin Elizabeth in her hour of need.
May we too rejoice in the Lord
when we can hurry to see people
to bring them the Lord
as we to share in their needs and their joys.
With Mary, may we become
a blessing to them.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
2) GOSPEL READING - LUKE 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.
3) REFLECTION
• 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.
4) 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?
5) 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)