With the lingering pandemic, visiting relatives and socializing with friends and family have been limited over the past couple of years. I have not heard of anyone recently staying with a relative for three months as Mary did with her cousin, Elizabeth. I am sure Mary was a very helpful visitor. I can imagine some happy conversations and sincere prayers of gratitude going up to God.
In the gospel reading for today’s Feast of the Visitation, the word “blessed” is found four times. Elizabeth tells Mary that she is blessed and blessed is the baby she is carrying. She tells Mary that she is blessed because Mary believed what the Lord had told her through the angel would come to pass. And then Mary, in her “Magnificat,” says that generations will call her blessed.
How often do we call yourselves blessed? Do we take the time to count our many blessings? Blessed isn’t a word that I hear too frequently. I do hear: “Good luck!” or “I hope things work out for you.” Despite all the evils and dangers in this troubled world, there are so many blessings we do enjoy and often take for granted. When God answers a prayer, do we spend as much time thanking him as we did asking for the blessing? God, the Creator, the Almighty, the Omnipotent, is loving us, even though sometimes we don’t understand his timing or his answers. We are blessed over and over again, in big ways and in small ways!
Did we ever go to visit a friend or relative and casually point out how blessed that person is? It is so easy to find fault and complain. People will eagerly sympathize with you. However, it is better still when we encourage people to offer thanks with us!
Jesus said in the Beatitudes in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-12) that those who live in certain ways are blessed. What might seem like big challenges in life can result in future blessings! Being meek, being merciful, being righteous can be hard work, but we will be oh, so blessed for our efforts, according to our Savior.
We are especially blessed to have the true Body of Christ available to us at every Mass. we hear the priest remind us of that:
Behold the Lamb of God,
behold him who takes away the sins of the world.
Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.
Without a doubt, we are blessed—with life, with love, with hope. In our daily prayer time, the Letter to the Ephesians 1:3-6 is a good starting point:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who had blessed us in
Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before
the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he
destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor
of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.
Painting: The Visitation, Jacques Daret (1401-1468). Panel from the altar piece for the Abbey of St. Vaast, Arras, France. Public domain.
The scripture passages are from the Catholic Study Bible, New American Bible, New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. All rights reserved.
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.