On Wednesday May 30th, frantic officials in Oslo Norway called in the red cross to curtail growing hysteria which left 19 hospitalized and 49 injured. This was not an earthquake or a terrorist attack. Norway had been ravaged by the kind of mindless hoards whom could have only resulted from the dreaded free Justin Bieber Concert.
On Thursday (May 31st) Catholics in Austin, Texas prepared to celebrate a visit from the man solely responsible for the salvation of the entire world and His Blessed Mother. They failed to alert the red Cross. Austin made no special preparations for the ensuing celebrity hysteria. Is everyone ok?
The story of the visitation is fairly simple. Shortly after the Angel informed Mary she would bear the Messiah, she hurried off to meet Elizabeth who was herself pregnant with John the Baptist.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!
There is really nothing in this story that’s incredible. The spirit that flows through Mary fills all life with joy. Joyful babies leap. Joyful women shout. These events should come as no surprise. What should be surprising is how many times we are visited by Jesus today, and we never notice.
We are a sacramental church. The Catechism defines a sacrament as a perceptible sign that by the action of the Holy Spirit becomes efficaciously what it represents (CCC 10840). In other words the sacraments make Jesus present. In a sacramental world view we can find the true presence of Jesus in the signs that surround us. If you want to meet Jesus and his mother live in concert you don’t have to wait for his next world tour, you’re there right now. So why aren’t we leaping?The disciples walked with Jesus for miles on their way to Emmaus, and didn’t recognize Him. Saint Thomas wouldn’t recognize the man in front of him as Jesus until he felt the holes in his hands. Jesus was interrogated and rejected by nearly all the religious leaders of his day before he became our cornerstone. Do we have more in common with them or with John?
Only a pure heart can really see Jesus. Baby John had that heart, but most of us need ours back. For this, we can use the Sacraments. The Gospels assure us Jesus is known in the “breaking of the bread“. When the sacraments transform ordinary objects in our presence, we are transformed in their presence. Slowly our hearts will become pure again. Still, we also need practice.
Jesus taught that whatever we do for the least of our brothers we would do for Him. So if we hope to recognize our Lord, we must also open our hearts to the least among us. If we want to see Christ we should set our eyes on the sick and the suffering. If we hope to understand our Father, ruling in heaven, we should become informed situations like our brothers and sisters growing coffee in Latin America.
We can only have faith in the life that pours through the womb of our Blessed Mother, if we leave no doubt in the life that grows inside the womb of all pregnant mothers. So my challenge to you is to hold a visitation with one of the least among us, and I hope you allow that visit to make you leap. Let your heart be moved and let you’re actions follow.
I don’t mean to pick on the Biebster too much. An entire generation of young girls can recognize Justin Bieber, and musical taste aside, there is nothing wrong with that. But knowing Justin Bieber’s name won’t get anyone into heaven. How about the man who passed you begging for change? Do you know his name? That might be a good start.