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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Feast of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Catholic Church and the Anglican Church commemorate today, the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. The Gospel we have heard announces to us this event. Mary, having learned from the angel that Elizabeth was pregnant, at once rushes to her, “In haste” writes Luke. The Gospel always hastens us, and impels us to go out from our habits, from our concerns and from our own thoughts. How many thoughts Mary had in these moments, after the Word of God had completely unsettled her life! The Gospel makes us rise up beyond ourselves and impels us to be to close to those who suffer, or at least to those who have need, such as the elderly Elizabeth who was facing a difficult pregnancy. As soon as she sees the young Mary coming to her house, she rejoices profoundly, even in her viscera. It is the joy of the weak and the poor in feeling visited by the “men and women servants” of the Lord, by those who have believed “that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” The Word of God, if received with faith, creates a new covenant in the world, an unusual covenant between the disciples of the Gospel and the poor. Mary became the first of the believers. She appears from the beginning marked by the beatitude of those who listen to the Word of God. It is the first beatitude of the Gospel, as Luke writes, “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” The happiness of Mary, the first disciple of the Gospel, is expressed in the song of the Magnificat. A song that manifests the joy of a poor young girl from a remote village on the periphery of the Roman Empire in seeing that the Lord of heaven and earth is stooping down to her, his poor servant. Mary does deem herself worthy of consideration, as generally each of us claims for oneself. She knows that everything comes to her from God and from God are her greatness and her strength; that same God who has liberated Israel, who has protected the poor, who humbled the proud, and has filled the hungry with good things, has stooped down to her and has loved her. And she has welcomed him into her heart. From that day on, through her, God has placed his dwelling amidst men and women.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord