“In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered thehouse of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth,” (Lk. 1:39-40).
On May 31st, the Church commemorates the Feast of the Visitation of Mary to her cousin St. Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist. Not a major Church feast day, nevertheless important enough in our Catholic Marian devotion to be the second joyful mystery of Mary’s Holy Rosary. As I reflected on this Gospel passage, the phrase the “house of Zechariah” really jumped at me because as a husband and father of one small child, God has appointed me as the head of my household.
As Catholic men, whether we’re single or married, we have the responsibility of being leaders in our homes. However, as Fr. Larry Richards said during the first Men’s Conference back in February, we can only accomplish this by serving our loved ones, and not by lording it over like authoritarian dictators. We must follow the example of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, who laid down His life for His Bride the Church. Fr. Larry said we must lay down our lives for others daily as Christ did and place God first, others second and ourselves last.
This life of service to God, family and neighbor is an impossible task without God’s grace because it’s a labor of Love. Love with a capital L. A Love that requires total self-giving, or what St. Paul referred in the First Letter to the Corinthians in Greek as agape (the highest definition love in ancient Greek). In contemporary Church parlance agape is referred to as the theological virtue of Charity. It’s called a “theological” virtue because it can’t be manufactured or attain by human effort, but it has to be infused in our souls by God’s grace alone. By virtue of our Baptism, we share in the very life of the Trinity, and it’s this Divine Life in us that enables us to grow in holiness and love for God and others.
The main point Fr. Larry drove during the Conference was our obligation to become saints; the very purpose of our existence. There’s nothing more masculine than a holy man. And in order for us to lead by example, we must first learn to obey the will of the Father in our lives, just as Jesus did.
Love is a decision and not a mere feeling. We love God with our will, and we must choose whether or not we will serve Him or not. We read in the book of Joshua, that right before Joshua died, he asked the people of Israel to make a decision between serving the one true God, or the pagan gods their ancestors had worshiped. “And if you be unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River. . . but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord,” (Josh 24:15).
Let’s ponder: Who is the Lord of our household, and whom do we really serve in our lives?
Let us Pray:
Come, Holy Spirit,
and fill my heart with Your gifts.
Let my love be true and my
charity be generous.
Help me in all my needs,
and grant me knowledge
to do what is right.
Advise me in my doubts,
strengthen me when I am tempted
and console me when I am afraid.
Graciously hear me, O Holy Spirit,
and pour Your light into
my heart, mind and soul.
Help me to live a holy life
and grow in goodness and grace.