Praised Be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!
|An Ordinary Visit, A Divine Encounter|
Having heard from the angel that her cousin Elizabeth was with child in spite of her old age, Mary set out in haste to the house of Zechariah in order to visit her. The encounter seemed like an ordinary visit of one woman to a relative. But something else took place: the Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth and sanctified the six month old John the Baptist in her womb. The baby John leapt for joy in his mother’s womb while Elizabeth recognized the blessedness of Mary. This encounter became an occasion of joy because at that moment, Elizabeth and John the Baptist encountered Jesus who was then in Mary’s womb.
An ordinary visit that turned into an encounter with the Lord – this is what the visitation turned out to be. And this becomes for us a paradigm for the new evangelization. Pope Francis wrote: “Today, as the Church seeks to experience a profound missionary renewal, there is a kind of preaching which falls to each of us as a daily responsibility. It has to do with bringing the Gospel to the people we meet, whether they be our neighbours or complete strangers. This is the informal preaching which takes place in the middle of a conversation, something along the lines of what a missionary does when visiting a home. Being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey.
“In this preaching, which is always respectful and gentle, the first step is personal dialogue, when the other person speaks and shares his or her joys, hopes and concerns for loved ones, or so many other heartfelt needs. Only afterwards is it possible to bring up God’s word, perhaps by reading a Bible verse or relating a story, but always keeping in mind the fundamental message: the personal love of God who became man, who gave himself up for us, who is living and who offers us his salvation and his friendship. This message has to be shared humbly as a testimony on the part of one who is always willing to learn, in the awareness that the message is so rich and so deep that it always exceeds our grasp. At times the message can be presented directly, at times by way of a personal witness or gesture, or in a way which the Holy Spirit may suggest in that particular situation. If it seems prudent and if the circumstances are right, this fraternal and missionary encounter could end with a brief prayer related to the concerns which the person may have expressed. In this way they will have an experience of being listened to and understood; they will know that their particular situation has been placed before God, and that God’s word really speaks to their lives.” (Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 127 -128.)
We fail to recognize the effectiveness of this person to person approach because our paradigms for evangelization are narrowed to the formal catechism classes, seminars, and homilies. We think that formal classes are the only effective ways of preaching the gospel. While we cannot deny the importance of dogma and theology, we must also accept that fact that the Holy Spirit enlivens our faith through dialogues of life experiences. Only a few have the charism of teaching, all of us are capable of conversations and visitations. The Holy Spirit moves in our lives and sharing with one another how He touches us is a moment of witness and evangelization. We are all disciples and being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others. May we be bearers of glad tidings as Mary was to Elizabeth and John.
Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.