It is strange how the holy scriptures, as we read and reread them throughout the year, can always hold new insights for us. We can find previously hidden depths of resonance for us within them. As we come to read them in our current surreal circumstances I have certainly found this to be the case.
I write this pastoral letter for the June edition of the magazine slightly later than I had planned. This means I do so on 1 June – the day on which the Church this year celebrates the Feast of the Visitation. This festival recalls the time immediately following the annunciation of our Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The story (found in Luke 1:39-56) tells of Mary’s journey and visit to her elderly cousin, Elizabeth. Both of these women are with child – Mary carries our Lord and Elizabeth carries John the Baptist within her.
It is a meeting of great joy, but also one of challenge and of cost. Mary’s song, known to us as the Magnificat, is a challenge to our complacency in caring for the poor and vulnerable. Although these women meet in joy, the path ahead of their respective offspring will be a difficult and painful one; though one that will lead to life and blessing.
As I write many people that have known a prolonged period of confinement will, at last, be able to travel a short journey to visit their loved ones. These meetings, it seems to me, will be simultaneously joyful and challenging. They are visits that come with restrictions. Social distancing and meeting only outdoors etc mean there must, for now at least, be a new way to relate and to be with one another. This is difficult and yet it is quite necessary if we are to continue to protect the most vulnerable in our families and community.
As we tentatively begin the process of venturing out and of meeting one another again, may we know the reality of God’s continual presence and of that loving embrace that cannot be held from us.
Yours in the faith,