Feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help
(St. Clement’s Church-Redemptorist, Iloilo City)
First Reading : Zep 3:14-18a
Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has removed the judgment against you,
he has turned away your enemies;
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.
On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
He will sing joyfully because of you,
as one sings at festivals.
Gospel Reading : Lk 1:39
Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
St. Luke described to us the visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. He included this story in his Gospel to bring a message to a particular Christian community to which Luke was in-charge. What we can learn from this particular passage of the Gospel of Luke is the role of Mary in the Christian Community.
Even at that early stage of the Christian faith, Mary had already become a mother and a model to every disciple of the Lord. Mary who received the Lord in her womb and in her whole life manifested in her actions the wonders of God done unto her. She became a model of charity and service to others which is an expression of bringing the Lord to others. This is clear enough in Mary’s willing heart to help her cousin, Elizabeth.
The exchange of greetings between these two women was the amazing thing we find in the Gospel. Luke described to us how the baby in the womb of Elizabeth leaped with joy upon hearing the voice of Mary. Mary, the THEOTOKOS or bearer of God, brought such great joy to Elizabeth and to her baby in the womb.
Mary’s visit was certainly God’s visitation to Elizabeth, to her baby and to Zechariah. God visited them through Mary. And this is what our theme for the Feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is all about, “Mary’s Visit is God’s Presence: Our Call for Mission Today.”
On this feast of the Visitation, we who are disciples of the Lord are reminded to be like Mary, to be charitable in our words and actions, to be aware of those who are in need of assistance, to be at the service of others especially those who are most in need of our help. In that way, we bring the Lord to them, we let others feel God’s presence through us and this is our mission as devotees of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
Indeed, each of us has that capacity to bring God’s presence to others. The Lord is with us, he is with you and with me; he is in our midst, as the Book of the Prophet Zephaniah tells us. Thus, as Christians we are called to make a stand and to be aware of what is happening around us – not just within our small community but also in the wider picture of our society.
It means that we are called to be socially aware and not to remain indifferent to the difficulties of our sisters and brothers. That is why, when we are indifferent to the difficulties of others, there is surely something wrong with our Christian life. It is good then to ask ourselves, are we socially aware or indifferent to the plight of the poor, the weak and the oppressed?
In concrete terms and in small ways, a challenge is given to us now and that is to become God’s presence to others. It would be good then to remember those people whom we have not visited for a long time. Visit them if possible. Remember also those people we know who will surely need our help, or recognize the people around us who need help from us in one way or another. Then, in hope, we may be able to let them feel God’s presence through us, through our generous words and service. Kabay pa.