FRIDAY HOMILY: The Visitation - A Divine Encounter
culminated in the actual visit, an intense pulse of light. The concentrated light stayed on the planet for awhile, then the planet went dark as the globe spun around three times and the pulse of light re-appeared more intense than ever.
Then the dazzling light disappeared again, returning to the "home of light." At that point the planet began to glow again, but this time with small pinpoints of light all over the world, as the Body of Christ grew upon the earth.
One of the options for the first reading today comes from the Song of Songs. In it the bride awaits eagerly the visitation of the groom. "Hark! My lover--here he comes springing across the mountains, leaping across the hills." (Song of Songs 2:8)
And the bridegroom arrives with an invitation. "Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one, and come!"
In the Song of Songs, we get a glimpse of the love God has for us - the Body of Christ which is His bride on earth. "O my dove in the clefts of the rock, in the secret recesses of the cliff,
Let me see you, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and you are lovely." (SS 2:14)
When we wonder why the God of the universe chose to visit us in bodily form, it all boils down to love. As that familiar Scripture from John 3:16 reads, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that all who believe in Him might not perish but have everlasting life."
This year all three of the priests in our local parish are co-teaching a section of 8th grade CCD in preparation for confirmation. As I look at the young faces in my class, some seem eager to learn the faith and some are semi-attentive. Many appear somewhat neutral. We also have those who were wishing they were somewhere else... anywhere else. CCD, to them, seems like a big waste of time.
How I wish I could effectively communicate to them the significance that we are the visited planet. In their preparation for confirmation, they are not learning mere principles but they are learning to understand a person - Jesus Christ. They are not just studying to obtain a certain status in the Church, they are being prepared to receive grace.
I think that, particularly in our day and age, it is very easy to turn Christianity into a system of thought or a philosophical approach to life. We can establish life based on simply following the ten commandments and its derivatives - much like early Judaism. We can also see Christian teachings as a series of doctrines to be believed and examples of lifestyle to be emulated.
As Elizabeth pointed out, it is so much more. When Mary showed up at her door, the very God of the universe was in her womb. The love of God the Father for mankind did not compel him to reveal a list of do's and don'ts he wanted us to follow. He did not send a manual on how He wanted the world to run. Instead, He sent His Son.
When Christ communicated the heart of the Godhead, it was not merely on the basis of formulas but faith, where we needed to accept a message of love and relationship. He wanted to know us and we to know Him.
This is what I want our eighth graders - in fact, all who hear the message - to seriously embrace: that God loves them and has made a way for them to spend eternity in fellowship with him. As we read in John 10:10, he "came that they might have life and have it abundantly."
How easy it is to forget the miracle of this event, that God the Son became a man. He desire to personally be involved in our planet - to walk where we walk and experience what we experience. We truly are the visited planet.
Father Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and a priest with the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (http://usordinariate.org) established by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, through the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus."
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: incarnation, visitation,
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