by an unknown MMM author Ireland 12.11.2022
How often have you walked into the greeting ‘God sent you’ or ‘you’ve been on my mind’. Our Lady’s journey through the hill country was a concerned visit to her cousin Elizabeth. Pondering the words and happenings she had heard from the angel, recalling the awe of the Annunciation, gave a sense of urgency to Mary’s journey. Her urgency was to lend a friendly hand and helping presence; which was welcomed by her cousin. ‘God has sent you’ the greeting and the embrace of the two women expresses the concern each hold for the other. Both in a unique way knew God’s creative power; both were experiencing totally unexpected pregnancies. They were on each other’s mind.
In the mind of Mother Mary Martin was the urgent need to bring modern health care to Africa especially to mothers and young children. Secondly, but equally important, was the training of women in family health care. From her own strong family bonds she was profoundly aware of the influence of mothers in the home. Family support was of the very fabric of life in Africa, very evident and obviously to be supported. She saw the distance, time, the difficulties of travel were all shortened by the desire to be with family, clanswoman, tribal member in any kind of need.
Mother Mary Martin found in the Gospel account of the Visitation the motif for the Medical Missionaries of Mary. Despite her own ill health, and other obstacles, the Congregation took root. In Africa particularly she saw the urgent need to be with other women making modern medical care available, realising that for families, illness and need arrive at unexpected times. Medical Missionaries of Mary would be God-sent and they would be attuned to the needs around them, ready to journey to the hill country and stay while needed with a woman’s touch.
Nowadays, visitations take Sisters into the slums of the ever-expanding cities of the third world where people have gathered hoping for a better quality of life. But instead, are often in dire need. Further visitations take Sisters into remote areas with healing hands alongside women awaiting the birth of a baby or perhaps gently soothing an extremely ill patient. Often visitations under difficult circumstances can mean long hours of waiting through the night hours. Visitations call for sisters to rise before dawn, load their land rover and stretch out in all directions to local villages offering basic and fundamental health care to local communities. For the Sisters, as for Mother Mary Martin, these visitations are God-bearing visits. They have saved many lives, transformed care, and offered hope. No wonder people say ‘God has sent you’, ‘you will be forever in my mind.’
Mary’s journey through the hill country was a concerned visit to her cousin Elizabeth. Pondering the words and happenings, searching the crevices of memory gave urgency to Mary’s journey. If the news should be true, a friendly hand and her presence would be welcome.
St. Luke tells us that Mary was a young woman recently engaged. Elizabeth was an old woman, wife of a religious official. ‘God has sent you’ the greeting and the embrace expressed the concern each holds for the other. Both experienced God’s creative power; both were experiencing a totally unexpected pregnancy. Both acutely bewildered yet trustful. Family support is an important part of life and in Africa it is especially evident; distance, time the trials of travel are shortened by wanting to be with family, clanswoman, tribal member in any time of need, ‘God has sent you.’ The problem or predicament is shared. Shared first in word, when hidden anxieties and cloudy hopes become known through patient listening. Shared then in time, being with the other, watching and waiting for time to reveal its meaning. Mary stayed with her cousin. For Mary and Elizabeth, it was in their sharing and patient waiting that new understanding and deeper friendship grew.
From Mary’s first hurried steps over the hills to the last slow step up the hill of Calvary, God sent her. ‘God sends you’ to your family or friends who may know unexpected reversals such as insecurity through redundancy, violence, or loss of faith. ‘God sends you’ to a person with re-assuring hand, the tight hold saying I understand the already gripping cancer; the fever or anxiety of a diagnosis, the anticipation of new life in birth pain, feeling the pulse of thought, and yet understanding that God is in all.
God intervened in Mary’s life and so she journeyed to Elizabeth. Mary walked into the greeting ‘God sent you’. From the greeting Mary knew that she was welcome.