31 May 2022 – The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Pentecost Novena Day 5, Rosary to the Holy Spirit & Mass) (Year C)

by Fr Francis Anthony

Zephaniah 3:14-18
Responsorial Psalm: Isaiah 12
Luke 1:39-56

My dear friends,

Right in the smack of the middle of our Novena to the Holy Spirit, we have got a pleasant deviation. The liturgy today, and those of us who do the Divine Office, it is focusing on the person of Mary.

And right at the very beginning of her confinement as the prayer says, “Inspired by God, she took the long and tedious journey to visit her cousin.” She did not look for excuses and say, ‘No, it is difficult.’ It is the love that is in her towards others is manifested in this Feast of the Visitation.

As I said, right in the middle of this Novena to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the author of love. The love between the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit incarnate or rather love incarnate in the Holy Spirit. And we see Mary traveling and it is not just simply going there but she shares her joy with her cousin, Elizabeth. She greets her and it is more than a usual greeting of saying ‘good morning’ or ‘hello’ or whatever it is. There was something in her wishes that Elizabeth said, “As soon as your greetings came, the child in my womb leapt for joy.” A sincere wish for the well-being of the other.

Let us look into our own lives. Yes, we wish everybody anywhere, anyhow. But is our wish really coming from our heart to the well-being of that person, whoever he or she is? Or is it a formality? If it is a formality, we better stop that habit. A wish where it is coming to the well-being of the others and for this, I like the way the Muslims in the Arabic world wish ‘Assalamualaikum‘ (Peace to you), ‘Wualaikumsalam‘ (and with you). A total giving of harmony from within you. There is no guile, no hidden agenda. Total well-being of the other.

And in the First Reading then, we will see the happiness that comes about. It is from the Old Testament book (not well read) from Zephaniah, the joy, the happiness. You can go back and read this and see how often the word joy/happiness comes and it is brought about by God’s presence.

My dear friends, the greatest joy in the Book of Zephaniah says, “The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a victorious warrior. Whom do we need more than the Lord himself?” And Zephaniah is saying, both the people of Jerusalem and in Zion, that they have God in their midst and that is the main reason for their joy, their happiness. Zion have no fear, the Lord is with you. Yes, you may be troubled at this moment (the Jewish people were a little apprehensive of their destiny). Zephaniah is bringing them the consolation, “Joy be with you because the Lord is with you.

And this is seen in a different way in the Gospel text where the presence of God brings joy. You see the order is reversed. Mary begins her hymn with humility and praise and towards the end, she says:-

He (that is God) has routed the proud of heart.
(Then it goes further) He pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lonely.
The hungry he has filled with good things.
The rich sent empty away.

And you can carry on reading. The reverse is seen as a blessing. I do not say hunger is a blessing but in a very mysterious way, the Lord with you will replenish you. How it happens don’t ask me, I’m not God. It is God who intervenes in their history.

And I think this is happening today in the reality of the war in Ukraine, in the flooded areas in Brazil, in the flooded areas in China and in India. Somehow or other I am sure the Lord is in their midst, helping them to come out of this big natural disasters, all the man-made disasters that the innocent people are facing.

So, my dear friends, as I said today halfway through the Novena we focus on the person of Mary, our mother. Yes, the Holy Spirit is love incarnate but we will see that love incarnate being practiced by Mary. She puts others in a superior position, give priority to the needs of others and in this way we will see when Jesus said, “Son, behold your mother“. On the cross, He has given us his mother of love. She is a mother of all of us. Let us ask her to give us the strength to be able to stand with her and to be able, with all our difficulties, to be people who are able to bring about joy to others.

Tomorrow, we begin the Triduum Masses in three places, English is here, Chinese in the hall and Tamil in the classroom. And the theme is looking up to the Holy Spirit.
Tomorrow it is “Help us to be one with you.”
The following day, “Empower us with your love.
On the third day, “Nourish us with the word.

Help. Empower. Nourish.

But we have the Holy Spirit. Yes, through all the sacraments that we receive. We receive the Trinity God and we have in a very concrete way through the Sacrament of Confirmation, the gift of the Holy Spirit. Remember yesterday I said I like the prayer/the response:-

Kindle in us the flame of your love.

Let us bring out the love that is within us. Take away all our pride, our envy, our jealousy, our egoism and put others in front of us and let us be like this light to them and for them. And when we are striving with that, then we can join Mary and say “My soul glorifies the Lord, the greatness and my spirit exalts in God my Saviour” because I am bringing the love that is within me to reach out to others.

Click below to listen to the homily and watch the video:-

Click to live-stream Mass on 31 May 2022