In the first place Mary had her ordinary work to do, work that women have never liked very much—washing, cooking, carrying water, spinning, weaving, sewing. No one but a princess could afford to hire others to do her work, and Our Lady, although she was Queen of heaven, lived on earth in very moderate circumstances. At the temple she had definite work to do, and as the wife of Joseph the carpenter she would have little time to be idle. It could have been arranged otherwise, of course, had God so wished. But perhaps because of all the tired homemakers who would one day look to Mary as their model, her work was of the same unexciting type that woman's work has always been. In doing it faithfully, day after day, she gave us the perfect example of the use of circumstances as a help to sanctity. She made untrue for all time the lazy little argument that "I can't be a saint. Nothing important ever happens to me!"
The difference between Mary's tasks and ours lies in the way they were performed: something-done-for love, or something-done-because-I-can't-get-out-of-it. Mary's works grew out of her love, of which she had a fullness. Almost all that the Gospel has to say about her reveals her love of God in action, in her consideration for others. At Cana she was to intercede for an embarrassed young couple and save their wedding feast from collapse by a miracle performed at her request. Saint Luke records what is an even more striking incident of her loving works in the Visitation.
The angel was hardly gone from the little house at Nazareth when she went "with haste" to see her cousin Elizabeth. Her reason for going was pure charity. She knew the great miracle that was accomplished in her: that she was the Mother of God. She had studied the Scriptures well and knew the prophecies relating to the Messiah. "He who is mighty, he whose name is holy, has wrought for me his wonders," she was to tell Elizabeth. She knew that this was a great distinction. If her friends and relatives had known of the angel's message, they would have honored and praised and envied her for being so chosen. Every Jewish girl for thousands of years had hoped to be the one so distinguished. As Mother of God, Mary was entitled to greater honor than any other woman on earth, "Behold, from this day forward all generations will count me blessed. . ." She should not be expected to make the long hard trip across the hill country of Judea; one does not expect persons of great rank to go out of their way for someone of lesser rank. But Mary knew that her visit would bring joy to Elizabeth. Her own heart was all but breaking with the joy of the angel's message. She simply had to share it. Down through the centuries yet to be, zealous missionaries whose hearts were overfull of love for her Son would hasten to far shores to spill into waiting hearts the joy of the Redemption. The feast of the Visitation was to be especially for them, the feast of the sharing of joy.
The human heart can only hold just so much of joy or sorrow, and after it is full the contents spill over into the lives of those around it. We are not made stony selfish creatures, sufficient unto ourselves and completely lacking in responsibility to our fellow beings. We are sharers in the sorrows of this life, "mourning and weeping in this valley of tears." If we are faithful we shall also be sharers in the happiness of the life to come. Our Lord was very clear in His statements regarding love for the neighbor; it was to come first after our love of God, on a level with our love for ourselves.
Mary shows in the Visitation that she placed her love in that relationship. She was the first of countless thousands whose eager feet could hardly wait to carry the joyful tidings of the Redemption to someone who awaited His coming. She was the first Christopher, the first Christ-bearer, the first to share from a full heart the joy that is Christ. Following her hastening feet on that errand of charity, missionaries to the end of time will bear the Light of the world to nations that sit "in darkness and the shadow of death." She was the first missionary, so pure and so loving and so beautiful that youth will always be inspired to follow in her footsteps. We too are Christ-bearers in a dark world. As members of His Mystical Body, we have somewhat the relationship to the Light of the world that electric wires have to the central power-plant: we do not make the light; we carry it into dark places. As frequent communicants we have the obligation of bringing Him into the lives of those around us.
"You are the light of the world," He told His apostles. The sentence is addressed to us too. Our paths may not lie to the Orient nor into the heart of the Congo, where peoples have never heard of Christ. "We know, with a little reflection, that there are many among our daily associates who would profit by contact with Him. Perhaps we shall be asked on Judgment Day why we did not bring Him into their lives. We cannot rest content with what we have, a Faith to which perhaps we were born and which we have come to take for granted. Faith must be lived or lost: Christ must be shared if we would have Him ourselves. Our Communions are not finished when we have said our thanksgiving prayers. As we go from the church to our daily tasks, Christ must go with us as He went with Mary, so that people will know (as Elizabeth knew, without being told) that Christ is there. Preaching at people can never be the answer to our obligation of sharing Christ: we must manifest Him in deeds as Mary did.
It is true that if we do not possess anything, we have nothing to share. To enkindle others with love of God, we must ourselves be aflame. To share with others the joy of Christ, we must possess Him ourselves. Only when He reigns in our souls can we hope to give to this joyless world any reflection of the happiness that is His, and to follow in Mary's office of the bringing of joy. Cause of our joy, pray for us!
Source: Our Lady's Feasts, Imprimatur 1945
A coloring picture can be found below.