Feast of the Visitation
In Mary, humanity’s longing for God reached its highest peak. She was like a vast desert thirsting for living water. Another young girl, about Mary’s age, expressed it very well. On an unusually beautiful February day in 1944, Anne Frank looked out a window in the attic where her family was hiding from the Germans. She could see the coming of Spring. She had been confined for twenty months in the hidden annex and she longed to break out. In her diary Anne writes, “Today the sun is shining, the sky is a deep blue, there is a lovely breeze and I am longing-so longing-for everything. To talk, for freedom, for friends, to be alone. And I do so long…to cry! I feel as if I am going to burst, and I know that it would get better with crying; but I can’t, I’m restless, I go from room to room, breathe through the crack of a closed window, feel my heart beating, as if it is saying, ‘can’t you satisfy my longing at last?’ I believe that it is spring within me, I feel that spring is awakening, I feel it in my whole body and soul. It is an effort to behave normally, I feel utterly confused. I don’t know what to read, what to write, what to do, I only know that I am longing.” 1 That’s the longing Mary experienced for God.
Suddenly, an angel appeared to Mary and the wintry cold from centuries of God’s absence was over. She knew what she wanted to do and had the freedom to do it. Mary burst out of Nazareth and went with haste to the hill country of Judea to be with Elizabeth, to talk, to cry, to laugh, to enjoy the feeling of a new Spring awakening in her womb. They went on long walks together, one who was very old and one who was very young, both with child, both learning from each other. They went up and down the hills, along cultivated fields, across orchards in bloom, sharing the fulfillment of their longings. They had suffered the cold and now they were suffused with the warmth of divine love. God was visiting his people. They could sing, “The winter is past, the rain is over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land.” 2 It was wonderful.
However, the presence of God visiting his people, walking with us every day, does not do away with suffering and new desert experiences. After St. Paul was nearly stoned to death he said, “…it is through many tribulations that we must enter the kingdom of heaven.” 3 In her third from last diary entry Anne Frank writes, “I hear the ever approaching thunder which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again“ (July 15, 1944). In her finally entry on August 1st she writes, “I’ve got a happy nature within.” The cruelty did end, but not before it had swept her away.
After Mary returned from her beautiful days with Elizabeth she also heard the approaching thunder, the storms that would threaten and eventually kill her Son. But not even those wintry blasts could put out the raging flame of love in her heart. With Mary we know that God has visited us and his intention is love.