Yesterday, as we celebrated our oldest daughter's 20th birthday, good friends asked my husband and I to be the Nanny and Parian (God-parents) of their new baby.
God is good.
Such joyful celebrating are birthdays. Such joyful anticipation is an expectant birth.
On the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Mother to her cousin Elizabeth, I am remembering in prayer not only my newest Godson and his mother but, also, two other mothers and their babies. One couple has recently been told that their longed-for, much prayed and hoped for baby has the fatal birth defect known as anencephaly. Another couple is awaiting the birth of their second child in July, having lost their firstborn child to the same birth defect anencephaly over a year ago. Both couples are at different levels in life's journey. Both couples are struggling with life issues that some of us have never known and/or will never know. Both couples ask what God's message can possibly mean.
In reality, these times are not messages from God at all. They are, in fact, visitations from God.
Christ chooses to visit us in different ways. Sometimes He visits us for a fleeting moment and just as quickly leaves us with an unquenchable longing. These visits are much too short and we cry because He has left us with nothing to hold onto but a memory of what was. He came and asked us to rock Him to sleep. And He was gone.
Sometimes His visits are extensive and the luggage He brings with Him is greater. He asks us to accept Him, welcome Him, and let Him stay awhile. He asks us to make room in our hearts for His visit. He moves us out of our comfort zone and into another house entirely.
Sometimes He comes as the expected visitor who becomes the young adult who overstays His welcome. He stretches us in patience, in virtue, in acceptance.
How do we receive Him?
How ever He comes to you, receive Him. Receive Him amidst the joy, the tears, the glory, and the light because these are the things that create Life and He is Life. Receive Him as He comes to you because through Life is our salvation.
It is through our charity and hospitality to Him through others that we shall be measured:
"Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36
naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' 37
Then the righteous 16 will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' 40
And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
~ Matthew 25: 35-41
No matter how briefly, no matter how lengthy, no matter how difficult, no matter how inconvenient, no matter how imperfect, no matter how...these visitations are simply what they are...visits from Christ.
How have you received Him?
Let us pray that we receive him as prayerfully and joyfully as cousin Elizabeth did on the Feast of the Visitation:
"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, 'Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?' "
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"Unlike a simple visit, a visitation is different owing to the purpose intended by the get-together. A visitation aims to accomplish something. Specifically, a visitation is an encounter that carries within it a meaning that is exception." ~ Magnificat (Mass Contemplation/ May 31, 2010)
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you inspired the Virgin Mary, mother of your Son,
to visit Elizabeth and assist her in her need.
Keep us open to the working of your Spirit,
and with Mary may we praise you for ever.
We asked this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
* * * * *
God is good all the time