Visitation is not a word we necessarily associate with good news. Normally, when the word visitation is mentioned it is linked to a funeral pending.
A visitation is often associated with what people do the night before a funeral as they gather, friends and family, to pay their respects to a loved one who had died. They gather to remember, to console, to grieve, to pray, and to hope together as a small community.
A visitation is meant to be a time of communal strength by which hope is enlivened, faith is awakened, and love is shared.
In today's feast we celebrate the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It sounds like we are commemorating the night before she died, but this is not the case.
Actually, we celebrate the trip she took after she said 'yes' to God. She did not stay hidden or out of sight, but rather, she took the good news and brought it to share with her cousin Elizabeth.
It was the first visitation from which all others take their meaning and direction; in it hope was enlivened, faith was awakened and deepened, and love was shared: "when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, proclaimed, most blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb."
It must have been some greeting to elicit such a response.
What do our greetings elicit?
If we say 'yes' to God, and bear the Christ in us, then we too join in the missionary journey of Mary who brings light to the world visiting upon all an occasion by which hope is enlivened, faith is awakened, and love is shared.
Don't wait until the night before the funeral to gather at the visitation: do it now, do it often, and let the Blessed Virgin Mary show you the way.