Elizabeth of Hungary lived 800 years ago during the time of St. Francis of Assisi and was a woman of nobility and influence. But she fell from the grace of her family and in laws because they resented her simplicity and identification with the poor. After her husband died, Elizabeth, pregnant with her third child, was banished and nearly homeless. She continued serving the poor, the sick, the leper…giving away all that she could. Founder of hospitals and hospices, Elizabeth died at the age of 24 on November 17, 1231.
Today is her feast and her image in stained glass color shines on those who pass by St. Teresa of Avila church on Armitage avenue. She gazes, like the other three women depicted in our windows, not IN the church but OUT into and onto the world and its streets of people. Elizabeth gazes in love as she holds several loaves of bread in the folds of her garments, waiting to be released to the hungry. The Saint from “Hungary” is most remembered for feeding the “hungry” in her midst. The wealthy and comfortable were jealous of her lifestyle and faith because they were made to feel UNcomfortable.
God visits us in the life of Elizabeth and in the day to day encounters we have with people who make us think and live in broad strokes. God visits us in so many ways that we miss and Jesus is deeply sad in the gospel of today’s liturgy at the countless missed opportunities to encounter these “visitations.” Jerusalem didn’t recognize the Visitation of God in Jesus and we are no different.
In our busy lives, we push God away, perhaps fearing being made to feel uncomfortable. Encountering God deeply will demand a change in how we live. Better not to give in to prayer than to engage in the struggle to embrace new ways of living that compel us to let go of whatever. Elizabeth was pushed away because she pierced the conscience of those who encountered her. She sacrificed her position, nobility, wealth, and security to discover her true treasure in the outcast who became the face of Christ.
God visits you in so many ways… in the ordinary events and people of ordinary life. Let these mini visitations sink in through prayer and see where they lead. You will be challenged but also inspired with new resolve and hope.