Tenderness of God, sweetness of Mary

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The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 31 May 2024
Romans 12:9-16     ><]]]]'> + >>]]]]'> + >>>]]]]'>     Luke 1:39-56
Photo by author, statues of Mary and Elizabeth at the Church of the Visitation in ein-Karem, the Holy Land, May 2017.

What a lovely way to end the month with this feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Visitation of her cousin Elizabeth after starting off May on its very first day with another feast, St. Joseph the Worker that remind us of God’s coming to us in Jesus Christ.

Visit and visitation may seem to be one and the same, sharing the common Latin root word of the verb vide, videre “to see” from which came the word video.

But, a visit is more casual and informal without intimacy at all. We say it so well in Filipino, napadaan lang or just passing by which is more concerned with the place or location and site, not the person there. Napadaan lang ako kaya dinalaw na rin kita (I was just passing by and decided to see you). There was really no intention in seeing the other person there.

Photo by author, Church of the Visitation, Ein-Karem, Holy land, May 2017.

Visitation is more intentional. Mr. Webster described it as a more formal visit commonly used in church language like when bishop and priests come to see their parishioners. This explains why we refer to a chapel as a visita which is actually a small church in remote places that missionaries used to visit for the sacraments. Likewise, visitas became venues too for catechism classes and other religious even social gatherings in places far from the town itself where the parish is usually situated too.

Thus, visitation connotes a deeper meaning because there is an expression or implication at least of care and concern among the people, a kind of love shared by the visitor like Mary to the one visited, Elizabeth.

Visitation is more of entering into someone’s life and personhood as reported by Luke in Mary’s visitation of Elizabeth when “Mary entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth” (Lk.1:40). There was a communion and sharing of their common experience of being blessed with the presence of God in their wombs.

Visitation is a sharing, a oneness in the joys and pains of those dear to us. The word becomes more meaningful when we examine its Filipino equivalent pagdalaw from the root word dala or something you bring like food or any gift when visiting relatives and friends. What you bring or dala is called pasalubong from the root salubong that literally means “meeting” or “encounter”. When the visitor and ones visited meet, they salubong.

Here it becomes more colorful and meaningful because more than the gifts we bring or dala in our visitations, we bring our very selves as a gift of presence. In every visitation, it is our very selves we gift, we share with those we visit, offering them our time and talent, joys and sadness and ears and heart to listen to their stories and absorb their woes and whatever they may have to unload upon us.

Photo by author, 2019.

That was what Mary did exactly in her visitation of Elizabeth with an extra gift, the most precious pasalubong to share with everyone, Jesus Christ in her womb, right in her very self and body!

We too are invited every day to be like Mary, a bringer or taga-dala of Jesus Christ to everyone we meet, the best pasalubong we can share with everyone. If we can only be like Mary in our dealings with others, trying to make every encounter a visitation that is a willful bringing and sharing of Christ with others, then we also bring with us God’s tenderness and mercy for this dark world that admires toughness and roughness.

How sad are those news of daily road rages happening almost everywhere, many times resulting in the loss of lives like the recent fatal shooting of a family driver in Makati.

Through the Blessed Mother’s humility and obedience before God, Christ came into the world to make us experience the Father’s tenderness in the many healings and miracles He performed. This tenderness of God in Jesus we saw too in Mary His Mother in the Visitation: Mary visited Elizabeth because she knew and felt her many wounds who for a long time bore no child, living in “disgrace before others” as she had claimed (Lk.1:25). A tender person like Jesus and Mary is one who comes to comfort and heal the wounds of those hurt in life, trying to lullaby the restless and sleepless, never adding insult to injuries.

Photo by author, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, QC, 20 March 2024.

One last thing about the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. One of the best things we can experience from visitations and visits of family and friends like during wakes and funerals is that quality of sweetness.

Sweetness always goes with tenderness.  It is the essence of God who is love.  Anyone who loves is always sweet that always comes naturally from within, bringing out good vibes.  It is never artificial like Splenda, always flowing freely and naturally that leaves a good taste and feeling to anyone.

In the Hail Holy Queen, Mary is portrayed as “O clement, O sweet Virgin Mary” to show her sweetness as a Mother. Recently I have seen some posts making a meme (?) of the Hail Holy Queen’s part that says “to you do we cry poor banished children of Eve”. I have not really dealt it with much attention because too often, there are a lot of generation gaps in many posts in social media; I really cannot relate much to the young perhaps due to my age. I just hope that post on the Hail Holy Queen is not derogatory. Back to our reflection…

Tenderness and sweetness are the most God-like qualities we all have but have unconsciously buried deep in our innermost selves, refusing them to surface because of our refusal to love for fears of getting hurt and left behind or lost. When Mary heard Elizabeth’s pregnancy, she simply followed her human and motherly instincts that in fact so Godly that she went in haste to hill country of Judah. How lovely!

Tomorrow it is already June, reminding us all we are halfway through the year. And it would be surprisingly quick that soon, it is already Christmas again! This feast of the Visitation reminds us of Mary’s great role in making Christmas a reality when God almighty became human, little and vulnerable like us to experience His sweetness and tenderness in Jesus Christ. Through Mary.

Let us pray:

God our loving Father,
thank for coming to us,
for staying with us,
not just visiting us;
help us imitate Your Son
Jesus Christ's Mother,
the Blessed Virgin Mary
whose "love is so sincere",
loving one another like Elizabeth
with "mutual affection,
showing honor,
fervent in spirit,
serving the Lord;
help us imitate Mary
to always rejoice in hope,
endure afflictions and
most of all, persevere in prayer"
(cf. Romans 12:9-12)
so we may always bring 
Jesus Christ with everyone
we meet.
Amen.
From cbcpnews.net, 13 May 2022, at the Parish of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City.
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