And she entered the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth
Luke 1:39

In today’s Gospel two women take centre stage as Luke records the visit of Mary to Elizabeth. We can assume that Mary went to visit Elizabeth to tell her of her pregnancy and to verify that Elizabeth in her old age had become pregnant. The meeting between Mary and Elizabeth provided an opportunity for them to comfort and support each other in their respective unique situations.

Throughout the Bible there are stories of God visiting people at various times in their lives. In the Birth Narratives God visits Joseph, Mary and Zechariah in the form of an angel.  As he visits various towns, Jesus brings new life to persons in their times of need and distress. He visits and eats with sinners in their homes.

Visits to family and friends are important for human relationships and good community life. Visits cement relationships, renew acquaintances and strengthen ties that bind us together. But not all visits are positive; some visits to friends and families are disastrous.

Our reflection this morning focuses on the benefits to be derived from visits that are geared towards the good of the individual.

At this Advent Season we call to mind God’s visit to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. God visited mankind to save him from his sinful predicament and mend the broken relationship that kept man separated from God. The purpose of God’s visit in the person of Jesus Christ was to reconcile man to God. St. Paul describes this unique visit in these words: God was in Christ reconciling the world to him.

In the sacrament of Holy Baptism which we shall administer shortly, God will pay a special visit to these two babies and bestow his grace on them. As a result of this visit these infants will become God’s children.

Visiting has two contexts. One which allows us to be signs of God’s presence in the world. When we visit people our presence brings them into the presence of Christ. Through our visits we share God’s love and become signs of hope.
There are many persons who can benefit from our visits. This would include people who are sick, persons who live alone, the aged, persons who are going through difficult times and people who are grieving. Very often we forget these persons and they are left alone. Today’s Gospel invites us to think of someone who can benefit from a visit. It might be a relative or friend who needs to know that there is someone who cares. Do you know of anyone who can benefit from your visit? We must not abandon our friends and relatives in their time of need.

The second aspect of visiting relates to relationships. It important that families visit each other; the same is true for friends. Social visits allow us to share our common humanity and to build relationships. But if visits are to be beneficial there must be two way and not one sided. We must not only expect people to visit us but we must also be willing to visit them. There are some persons who expect you to visit them, but they will not visit you. This is selfishness and it does not promote healthy relationships. Friendly visits as is portrayed in today’s Gospel allow us to share our joys and sorrows, pains and hurts, likes and dislikes. Friendly visits allow us to be human and to live out our full humanity.

The Christmas Season is often associated with visiting. We come together to share common meals and social functions. We visit and exchange gifts. We visit the graves of love ones. We visit institutions to bring cheer to the residents. Visiting is an exercise most of us participate in at sometime in our lives. We visit families and friends to share our love and experiences. Our visits can bring comfort to those who need to be comforted; strength to the weak; joy to the sad; hope to the hopeless and life to the ‘dead.’ As we celebrate this Christmas season let us make a promise that we will visit someone and share the Christmas spirit with him/her.

Social visits have the potential for building lasting relationships and bonding persons. However, such visits must be built on love if they are to be beneficial to all concerned. When visiting stops, it indicates that a relationship has broken down, something has gone wrong. 

Visiting is important and it should be encouraged, however, visit but do not overstay your welcome. Visit, but leave before you are asked to leave.

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