You are created by a loving and Providential God who is indeed your Father, who cares for you with the love of the best of all Fathers, for the purpose of praising Him and reverencing Him, and showing your love for Him by serving Him with your whole being. If this is done, the net result will be salvation—the saving of your immortal soul for all eternity, rejoicing in God’s Presence and His Love!
This leads us into a double consideration…
SERVING OUR LORD. First, how we can best serve Our Lord God and Creator. Jesus gives us the answer: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.” (Mt 25:40) As a sublime and inspiring example of service we will take the Blessed Virgin Mary and meditate upon the second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary—Mary’s Visitation to her cousin Elizabeth. Among the countless messages of inspiration that Mary presents to us in the Visitation, one of the primary is Mary’s attitude of service. Indeed, Mary went in haste to visit her elderly cousin who was with child so that she could serve Elizabeth and the baby in her womb, John the Baptist.
SALVATION OF OUR SOUL. The second part of our meditation will be on that of salvation. Indeed, the primary purpose of our short life on earth is to work with God’s grace to attain the salvation of our immortal soul. There is no more important endeavor or enterprise in our brief earthly pilgrimage than that of “working out our salvation in fear and trembling,” in the words of the Apostle Saint Paul. (Phil 2:12)
CALL TO SERVICE: MARY’S VISITATION TO ELIZABETH—AN EXCELLENT MODEL OF SERVICE FOR US. (Lk 1: 39-56)
1. MY PRAYER. Lord, grant me the grace to show my love for you by offering my life as an act of service to others in imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her visit to her cousin, Saint Elizabeth.
2. HASTE. After conceiving Jesus in her womb and learning about Elizabeth’s pregnancy in her old age, Mary moves IN HASTE to be of service to her elderly cousin in a town in the hill country of Judea. Contemplate Mary ascending the hills and traveling possibly 4-5 days to arrive and serve. Walk with Mary and talk to her about many things, but especially about how you can be of greater service to all of humanity.
3. JOYFUL GREETING. Upon arriving Mary greets Elizabeth with great joy. Mary does not serve begrudgingly and mournfully. On the contrary, she serves joyfully. Saint Paul says: “There is more joy in giving than in receiving.” (Acts 30:35) Also, “God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor 9:7) May your serving others be done with a radiant smile on your face. One of the clearest signs that we are followers of Jesus and Mary is that of the smile!
4. MARY AND ELIZABETH. Mary prays with Elizabeth. In the passage of the Visitation we have the beautiful prayer of the Blessed Virgin Mary—the Magnificat. This prayer the Church prays officially in the Liturgy of the Hours Evening Prayer every day of the year. The Church teaches us to praise God through Mary’s canticle of praise!
5. MARY SERVES ELIZABETH. It is not mentioned explicitly how Mary helped, but we can imagine the many ways that Mary could have served her elderly pregnant cousin:
1) FETCHING WATER. Imagine Mary traveling to the well with a huge container and drawing water from the well—this was hard work and service.
2) COOKING. No doubt Mary helped with the cooking of the meals for Elizabeth and Zechariah. She must have been an excellent cook. Taste her cuisine!
3) CLEANING AND ORDER. Of course Mary loved order; she would have worked to keep the kitchen and home clean and in order. This too is service. One of the purposes and benefits of doing the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola is “to order the disorder in our lives.”
4) WASHING. There were no washing machines or dryers back them. Therefore, Mary would have helped in the washing and drying of clothes by hand.
5) SWEEPING. We can picture Mary with a broom in her hand on a daily basis sweeping out the dust and dirt that so easily invades homes, especially those in rural areas.
6) TALK TO MARY ABOUT SERVICE. In all of these menial and at times routine activities of service, Mary teaches us a lesson. Holiness consists in doing the ordinary duties of our daily life with extraordinary love! As you contemplate Mary engaged in the active life of service, beg her for the grace to offer your life as a sacrifice of service to others!
CALL TO THE SALVATION OF OUR IMMORTAL SOUL!
Jesus stated the sober truth in these simple but very profound words: “What would it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul. What can a man exchange for the salvation of his soul?” (Mk 8:36-37) The second part of your meditation will be upon these words of Jesus that refer to the core and essence of the why of our existence, the very purpose of our existence, why we are really here in this world!
1. THE WHY OF YOUR EXISTENCE. “What would it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? What can a man exchange for the salvation of his soul?” Read, meditate, reflect, and consider over and over again these words of Jesus about the salvation of your immortal soul!
2. THE MOST IMPORTANT PURSUIT IN LIFE. By far the most important pursuit in your life is achieving, with the help of God’s grace, the salvation of your immortal soul. There is no greater pursuit, endeavor, or enterprise! At the end of your life, nothing else will matter!
3. SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS: THE VALUE OF YOUR SOUL. The Angelic Doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas, expressed this profound truth succinctly: “Your immortal soul is worth more than the whole created universe.” Recall the grandeur, majesty, and immensity of creation (Gen 1 and 2), and reflect on the fact that your immortal soul has much more value than all of creation combined. How great and important is the value of your immortal soul, and every immortal soul, created in the image and likeness of God!
4. THE PRICE OF YOUR SALVATION: THE BLOOD OF JESUS! Saint Peter states: “You were redeemed not by the blood of lambs or calves or heifers; nor were you bought by the price of gold and silver. Rather, you were redeemed by the Blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (1 Pt 1:18-19) Saint Leo the Great in his Christmas message exhorts us: “Christians, recognize your dignity!” We would like to add to the word dignity another word, recognize your destiny – Heaven!
5. Coming at this truth from a slightly different angle or perspective, possibly this can encourage you in the pursuit of the salvation of your immortal soul: you are called by God to be with Him in HEAVEN forever and ever!!! Indeed, every time you pray the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father, you are calling to mind the reason why God created you: to save your immortal soul and get to heaven! It cannot be any clearer than that!
Let us pray earnestly to the Lord Jesus and to our friends in heaven to help us!
Beg fervently the angels and saints who are praising God in heaven to pray that you will have a burning passion and desire to get to heaven. Talk to any saint, or as many saints as you like, to help you to utilize all the means necessary, including loving and generous service of your neighbor, so as to attain your goal: HEAVEN!
THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY:
Then turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the full of grace, who loved God with all her being and served God in her neighbor, and beg her for the grace to desire to get to heaven and to be a true servant of the Lord so as to attain heaven. Pray the Magnificat.
OUR LORD JESUS:
Finally, beg the Lord Jesus for the desire to do all you can in this life to stay close to Him in all times and places and be His faithful servant, so that when you die you will be His faithful friend forever in heaven. May the longing for heaven be the most ardent desire in your heart and in your life!