Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin to her cousin Elizabeth

Dear Liz,

If God isn’t a feminist, then I don’t know who is.  I mean a real feminist, one who champions true femininity and wants the light of its genius to bathe every aspect of human life and society with its enlivening warmth.  Take today’s feast for example, in which we commemorate Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth after the Annunciation. You remember the scene, don’t you? The Archangel Gabriel appeared to Elizabeth’s husband, Zechariah, promising that he and Elizabeth would have a child, even though they were now past their childbearing years.  So Elizabeth indeed gets pregnant, and in her sixth month of pregnancy, Gabriel appears to Mary to announce that she will be the mother of Jesus. In the course of that conversation, Gabriel mentioned Elizabeth’s pregnancy – Elizabeth was a relative of Mary’s. So then Mary goes “in haste” to visit her cousin and take care of her until she has her baby, who turns out to be St John the Baptist.  Well, as soon as Mary shows up, John jumps for joy in Elizabeth’s womb, and Elizabeth blesses Mary, then Mary sings praise to God. It’s all quite dramatic if you think about it.

Now, back to true feminism.  Have you ever wondered why God chose to send Jesus to the world through Mary?  And why the aging mother Elizabeth acknowledged Christ as Lord when he was still in Mary’s womb, but later on his Apostles didn’t even believe in him after witnessing numerous miracles as well as the resurrection?  Here we have two Jewish women of the first century, one’s a teenager and the other’s almost an octogenarian (that means “in her eighties”); one is carrying in her womb the greatest prophet ever to be born, and the other is carrying in her womb God himself.  They are intricately involved in the plan of salvation, following in the footsteps of Sarah, Rachel, Rebekah, Ruth, Judith, Esther and all the heroines of the Old Testament, and paving the way for the countless female saints adorning the history of the Church.  If you wanted to, you could write the history of Alexander the Great without making reference to prominent women (it would be incomplete, but would appear believable); you could write the history of the Roman Republic in the same way; you could even write the history of the foundation of the United States glossing over the role of women – but if you take women out of the history of salvation, you would have nothing to tell.  God created us “male and female,” and he has been faithful to that design throughout his work of redemption.

Sorry for that digression.  I am aware that the Visitation means a lot more for the Church than equal dignity for women – but it certainly doesn’t mean any less.  You can rest assured that whatever God calls you to do for his Kingdom, it will be well worth the doing.

Love, Uncle Eddy

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