Daily Reflection
May 31st, 2000
Gerry Stockhausen, S.J.
Economics Department
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Visitation of the Virgin Mary to Elizabeth - Feast 
Zephaniah 3:14-18, or Romans 12:9-16
Isaiah 12:2-6
Luke 1:39-56

Long, long ago, immediately after I was ordained, I spent the summer working at a Jesuit parish.  One of my responsibilities was to spend two days each week as chaplain at a nearby hospital.  Every morning before going to the hospital I could think of a dozen reasons not to go.  Some patients would be overly talkative and I wouldn’t be able to get away, and others would be so noncommunicative that I would be left wondering what I was doing there.  Some were there for a short stay and I would never see them again.  Others were there longer and it was the same thing over each time.  What amazed me was that at the end of the day I was always grateful I had gone.  Every day I spent in the hospital I was blessed with at least one special moment that made it all worthwhile.

In today’s feast of the Visitation we watch Mary go to visit her kinswoman and help her as the end of her pregnancy nears.  Mary goes to help Elizabeth, but finds herself blessed by Elizabeth, and Mary breaks into a song of joy.  

I didn’t exactly break into a song of joy those days as I walked home from the hospital, but I did know that while I saw myself as bringing something to those hospital patients I was being blessed by them as Mary was blessed by Elizabeth.  And that is the point of Mary’s song—God turns everything upside down.  Who is giver and who is receiver?  Who is strong and who is weak?  Who is sick and who is well?  Who is hungry and who is full?  The readings invite us to ask what criteria we use to answer these questions, and to see whether those are the same criteria that God uses.

In the face of the God who turns everything upside down, we share in Mary’s song: “My whole being proclaims the greatness of the Lord.”

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