Pope on Feast of Visitation: We Should Serve Others Like Mary

We imitate Mary when we reach out to others, Pope Francis reflected on May 31.

Pope Francis venerates an image of Mary with a Pierced Heart after celebrating Mass at the Bicentennial Park in Quito, Ecuador, on July 7, 2015.
Pope Francis venerates an image of Mary with a Pierced Heart after celebrating Mass at the Bicentennial Park in Quito, Ecuador, on July 7, 2015. (photo: © L'Osservatore Romano)

VATICAN CITY — In his homily at daily Mass on Tuesday, Pope Francis pointed to Mary’s encounter with Elizabeth at the Visitation as a lesson in service and joy in the Christian life.

“Serving others is a Christian sign,” he said during morning Mass in the Vatican’s Santa Marta residence, according to Vatican Radio.

May 31 marks the feast of the Visitation, commemorating how Mary, after learning that she is pregnant with God’s Son, goes at once to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who is pregnant at an advanced age.

For Mary, a teen girl, to travel without hesitation to help her cousin shows great courage, Pope Francis said.

He reflected on the courageous women in the Church, saying, “They are like Mary.”

“These women who bring up their families, these women who are responsible for rearing their children, who have to face so many hardships, so much pain, women who look after the sick … [they are] courageous. They get up and help other people.”

Another critical lesson from Mary’s encounter with Elizabeth is the importance of joy, powerful enough to give meaning and direction to our lives, Pope Francis said.

“Christians with a grimace or disgruntled expression on their faces, sad Christians, are a very ugly thing,” he said, adding, “They are not fully Christian. They think they are (Christians), but they are not fully so.”

Finally, the Pope said, Mary teaches us with her visitation how to show concern for others.

“Reaching out to others is another Christian sign. Persons who describe themselves as Christian and who are unable to reach out to others, to go and meet them, are not totally Christian,” he said.

“Being of service and reaching out to others both require going out from themselves: going out to serve and meet others, to embrace another person.”

We imitate Mary when we reach out to others for an authentic encounter, allowing the Lord to work, Pope Francis reflected.

“Through Mary’s service towards others, through that encounter, Our Lord’s promise is renewed and makes it happen now, just as it did then.”

The Earth is Not Our Mother

“The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate.”—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy