Thursday, May 31, 2007

Feast of the Visitation - Gospel

Gospel - Lk 1:39-56

Mary set outand 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.”

And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.


At 12:17 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

This is unrealted to the Gospel reading, but thought I'd share it-

At the store today, the woman in front of me didn’t speak English. The cashier was rude b/c the woman didn’t understand what the cashier was saying, and began talking loudly and slowly (as if she were either deaf or stupid) and then rolled her eyes and “hmphed” the poor woman. I speak Spanish and offered my help. The woman’s eyes teared-up! I was so angry with that cashier, who was wearing a cross. I told her that behavior was not only rude and inconsiderate but unchristian. She said, “Well if they HAVE to come here, they should at least learn English!” and basically, “hmphed” ME! I decided, I can leave angry or do something else. I went to the manager, told him what transpired and explained that the behavior was so intolerable that, unless, something were done, I would no longer be a patron of that store.

The Lou Dobbs Show on CNN is almost entirely focused on discussion about closing our borders. He has gone so far as to call catholic priests unlawful, but I applaud the church for supporting the needs of those who come here to create better lives for themselves. A “hot” button in our area is the rising gang problem, and for each person who blames the problems with gangs in our area to our immigrant population- I’d suggest that they look at themselves. People join gangs to “be part” of something, and if we don’t make others “part of” our community, where are they to go? I know this is a long post, but it’s a subject about which I’m passionate, and I’d like to share one immigrant story with you:

When I was in high school I worked down at the Catholic Charities office helping, mostly El Salvadorian, immigrants fill out paperwork to obtain work permits (these people weren’t asking for hand-outs, just jobs). During that time I formed a relationship with one nun. When my son was one, I decided it was time to return to school and get a job, but I needed childcare. I called my nun and she sent me Maria Josefina Quinteros, who we renamed Fina. Fina didn’t speak English, and since she had only a 4th grade education, it seemed easier that I would learn Spanish. Fina was loving, loyal and generous (and never learned English). She lived with me for 13 years. When my eldest was young, I wasn’t very interested in my faith, even though I did baptize him. Fina was devout- she prayed the rosary every morning and prayed the Lord’s Prayer with my son (in Spanish) each night. She took him with her to Mass on Sundays, one of her days off, and when I would say that she didn’t have to, she’d reply that she wanted to- it brought her joy to know she was bringing my son to God. This woman, with a 4th grade education, told me that one day it would bring me joy too, for she also prayed that I would find my faith. Fina is one of the many blessings in my life.

When it’s easy to loose patience or be intolerant of someone else b/c they talk a different language or have a different custom, remember my Fina. Each person we meet has so much to teach us, if we only let them “be part”.

At 12:27 PM, Anonymous Kay said...

Mindy, I've been hesitant to post again, but I just want to say that your post is TOTALLY RELATED to today's Gospel reading. Each person who reads your post should then do what I did, and re-read the Gospel (which I heard at Mass this morning, and know by heart).

Things to ponder:
"Mary set out and traveled . . ." She wasn't an immigrant per se, but she went somewhere else to serve and to be served.

"He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly."

And the one that has made me think many, many, times:

"He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty."

Thanks, and God Bless.

At 12:44 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

Why are you hesitant to post again? Please don't be. I appreciate your words and hope to continue to read them.

At 1:03 PM, Blogger fran said...

Had planned to say something totally different, but am revising it to simply this-

If we all made the effort to see the face of God in each and every individual whose paths we cross each and every day, and treat them as such, we would ALL experience a taste of heaven on earth.

At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’ve read this reading several times to draw inspiration from the faiths of Mary and Elizabeth. For me, sometimes faith is really hard to hold. I guess I know that all things happen they way they are meant to, and I can look back at past struggles to realize the good that came as a result, but lately it’s been hard. For the first time in a while, I’ve felt a little alone, and it made me sad because I've even felt that way in church.

There have been some difficult things going on, and I’ve tried to do the right thing (at least as I see right and wrong- which could be the problem), and a few times have really screwed up. Actually, the screw-ups aren’t such a bad thing, for at least after them, it makes sense why I have negative results. My problem comes in trying to do what I think is right, even though often it’s not want I want. When the results from doing right are negative, then why try so hard? These are the times when faith is hard to hold. I hear about others whose faith carries them through hard times, and sometimes I can feel inspired, but other times I feel frustrated that it isn’t the same for me.

At 11:37 AM, Blogger fran said...

What a timely post, as the gospel and homily at this morning's Mass was about faith!

In his homily, father mentioned two friends with whom he visited yesterday, and how despite their current struggles, they are relying on their faith to get them through.

How does one do that exactly? For me, it means lots and lots of prayer and not being brought down by the things with which I am struggling. By that I mean not allowing feelings of discouragement to seep in. During a recent rough patch, Fr. G. told me that becoming discouraged was the work of the devil. Never thought of it that way, but will when the next trial comes along.

So, Anon, keep praying and reflecting on the the gospel passage of Mary and Elizabeth, and most importantly, don't become discouraged. You WILL get through this difficult time and remember that all it takes is faith the size of a mustard seed.

At 12:02 PM, Blogger fran said...

For above Anon,
Today's gospel: Mark 11:11 - 26

At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Marion said...

Re Mindy's comment: I was just talking with a tow truck driver (my car broke down) from El Salvador. He told me that a lot of the Salvadorans who come to our area of the United States come not only to earn money, but also to escape the crime and the gang violence in their homeland. Which is so sad.

He told me that in many parts of Central and South America, the police are corrupt and not to be trusted, there are many gangs, and many villages and streets aren't safe at anytime. I know he is right: My sister who lived with her husband in Colombia says that every single family in their apartment building in Bogota had someone - a cousin, a co-worker, an in-law - who had been kidnapped and held for ransom by a gang, some twice!

My family is so glad that my sister, her husband, and mis sobrinas (my nieces) are safe in Florida in the U.S. of A. now. My nieces are in college and totally bilingual in English and Spanish, which will be such an advantage to them. (It was so funny to hear them speak "Spanglish" when they were little ("Mami, donde estan mi shorts?")

One of things I value so much about our country - and my sister and her husband do, as well - is that it is comparatively safe and civilized here. We are a nation of laws that protect all of us - citizens, immigrant guest workers, as well as tourists. We do have crime, yes, but we don't have these perfectly dreadful things happening here that you hear about going on in some other places. I believe that our comparative tranquility is because of, in part, the traditional respect among Americans for law and due process at all levels - the federal level, state, and local levels: The idea of doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do. Here we praise someone for being a "law-abiding citizen"; in some countries, this is not a concept that means much. You're a good husband, a good father, a good son, but in lands where a very few families own all the land and the rest of the people own nothing, the idea of being "a good citizen" can be a foreign concept.

Don't mean to ramble. What I mean to say only is that you can value and respect our country as a land of law and order, and want to see a lawfully executed system of immigration, and proper control of our borders, for reasons other than simple racism and lack of regard for the needs of the poor.

At 2:34 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

To Marion-
My Fina decided to finally leave El Salvador after her husband was killed by rebels and she envisioned a similar fate for her then teenage son. She left all she knew behind, entrusted the care of her son to her mother, hiked across the dessert to reach Texas, and eventually found her way to us. One of the things I hold as one of my greatest accomplishments was bringing Fina's son to the US several years ago. It took quite some doing, but he's here now, and he and his children are now part of my extended family. One would think that with how connected we are in this day with the internet and various forms of 24 hr media, that more people in the US would understand that others do not enjoy want we do here.

At 2:55 PM, Anonymous Marion said...

It's hard to believe how awful it can be in some other countries until you actually talk to people who have been there, who've survived the experience.

I think exporting freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and capitalism to countries that want it would be a great idea. Such things would certainly benefit people in those countries, especially the poor!

It's the right of other countries, however, to accept or decline our assistance in this regard. Even if our motive were to assist the poor, it would not be proper for the U.S. to enter a foreign land, topple their government and set up a capitalist / free enterprise system with the intention of bettering conditions for the people, providing jobs, etc. To do so would be highly disrespectful of the other country's boundaries; the world community would be outraged, and rightly so.

By the same token, when a population of people who are poor and feel that they can't wait for visas to enter the United States legally to look for work, cross our national borders illegally, then for our government to return them to their homeland with a warning to respect our laws, is not necessarily an inappropriate response.

At 3:30 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

Hi Marion-
I guess it's a point on which we'll have to agree to disagree, for, even if someone enters our country illegally (and I do understand the concerns of many who have valid security issues regarding this), if returning them to that country would put them in harms way, I can't help but think, lawful or not, it's just wrong. I don't want us to be a nation of people who put the law above what is just. I think it is just to provide safe haven to those in need. I guess we're getting political- something I don't usually do, and I do appreciate your opinion- even if it does differ from mine.

At 5:34 PM, Anonymous Marion said...

I appreciate your opinion, too, Mindy.

This is just a thought experiment, you see.

What if the U.S. said, "you know what, these poor people in Mexico are so desperate and things are so awful. We are going to annex the border states of Mexico, and just make those states U.S. territory. We will set up farms and factories according to U.S. laws and regulations, make everyone U.S. citizens, and things will be much better.

So there will be no more need for folks to sneak across the border - we will simply move the border south about 500 miles. Northern Mexico will be in the U.S.A."

Would that be OK? Would Mexico have a basis to object? After all, it's for the sake of helping the poor?

At 6:22 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

It's an interesting arguement, but I don't know if anyone, atleast with whom I am familiar, advocates this kind of action. If a country cannot deal with its poor, I believe it the obligation of others to do so. Unless we are willing to committ the same quantity of resources required to promote a war as to provide "peace" (and I believe safety, well-being and proper living conditions to be about peace) than how can we look at ourselves? I tend to leave the TV on at night (horrible habit, I know- but...) and always, about 3 a.m. the Christians Childrens Fund promo comes on. I can no longer purchase a $4.00 cup of coffee from Starbuck's because I know if I multiplied that out over a course of time, I could easily meet the needs of so many kids. I guess it goes back to the tithing 3% commentary. If we ALL did the minimum, the world would be great for all. But we don't. We need to live consciously, and if others, from other countries come to us for help- we should provide it. I have recently asked for help- it was humbling and I made a mess of it! It's given me even more compassion for those who are desperate. In addition, God provides, and I think there is always enough room "at the table". LOL

At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Marion said...

No, I don't seiously advocate the U.S. annexing parts of Mexico. That would be unthinkable from every angle.

But what a good thought experiment does - and this wasn't a particularly good one - is to get the focus off one aspect of a problem and onto some of the others, hopefully with the goal of new and better results.

Thank you, Mindy, for your caring and compassion for the poor. I know I don’t have all the answers, and hope I can learn from you.

It's good being a part of the "St Andrew's / Father Greg's blog Community."

At 3:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Visitation is my favorite Rosary mystery. A fun meditation and prayer is meditating on how Mary brought Jesus to Elizabeth and then praying that person x (yourself, someone or some group that you are praying for) bring Christ to all they meet even as those that they meet bring Christ to them. Think Mindy's story is a good example of this. Fina brought Christ to Mindy and Mindy brought Christ to Fina's son. Beautiful.

At 4:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS. Speaking of immigration isn't the real question for us Christians is how do WE (me and you) bring Christ to the poor AND to those who are not poor? Isn't Christ the only true answer to poverty? Can a heart truly converted to Christ allow the poor to go unfed? The thirsty, parched? The poor, destitute?

The real question is, have I brought Christ to someone? Fina knew Christ was what her rich benefactor needed. When Mindy found Christ, Mindy could not but to bring Christ to Fina's son through her own charity. If our hearts have been converted to Christ how can we not act love those whom he loves?


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