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Watches of the Night
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"Watches of the Night"

"Advent Dwelling Place"

          On this 4th Sunday of Advent our gospel is from St. Luke. It  is the story of the Visitation of Mary (Luke 1:39-45). Immediately following the last verse (v.38) of the scene of the Annunciation we hear that, "Mary set out..in haste." She does not go alone! For, "the Immaculate virgin...became the dwelling place of divinity" (Roman Missal, collect for Dec. 20th, p.27). Filled with the divine life of God at the Annunciation Mary goes in haste to bring God's presence to Elizabeth and John the Baptist: "Hark! My lover--here he comes springing across the mountains" (Songs 2:8) now through the humanity of Mary as she "traveled to the hill country in haste" (Luke 1:39).  The Spirit-filled presence of Jesus within Mary "proclaims" in silence a new season for humanity: "For see, the winter is past" (Songs 2:11). The root meaning of the word, visit, is "to see". Faith is an enlightening of the "eyes of the heart". The Father desires all humanity to 'see' that with Jesus "God is with us"--Emmanuel.  

          "God is love" (1 John 4:8,16), and this love is missionary by nature. In the mystery of the Visitation of Mary Jesus began his mission in the world from within Mary. Now, he continues his mission through each of us: "Whoever receives the one I send, receives me" (John 13:20). We are reminded that the Church "is the whole Christ, head and body" (CCC 771). At the scene of the Visitation Mary bears Jesus, the head, within her body. Here, Mary models the Church and Her true calling. The Church exists to bring Jesus to others. We are Jesus' Body in the world: Jesus is always with us, living in us, and acting through us in everything we do...and through intercession God "visits" His people to set them free. 

          The Latin word, Adventus, means "coming". Jesus still 'comes' ("Hark my lover--here he comes") to others through our humanity. He continues his mission in the world through our bodies. Like Mary, through us Jesus can say, "Wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge, I will lodge" (Ruth 1:16). As intercessors each of us is called to become a sign, a "sacrament" of God's presence with His people. At the Visitation, through Mary "The groom is here!" (Mt. 25:6). John the Baptist, the groom's best man, encounters Jesus for the first time through Mary's humanity. Like Mary each of us is called to share the fruit of our 'nuptial encounters' with the Lord with others.

          The mystery of the Annunciation contains Eucharistic symbolism. At the Annunciation Mary received Jesus in her body after she responded to the word of God with her fiat, her yes. After she conceived Jesus within her, Mary became, one might say, the first "Eucharistic minister" to the home-bound in her visit to Elizabeth and John. In every Eucharist at the moment of holy communion each of us is spoken to personally by God through the priest. Each of us responds with our 'fiat', our amen. Then, each of us receives Jesus within ourselves in a unique way. Then we are told to "go in peace". Like Mary we, too, do not go alone. In every mass Jesus visits us. At the end of every mass we are sent, in turn, to allow Jesus to continue to visit others through our humanity.

Questions:

1)    How aware am I of being Jesus' body in the world today?

2)   How has Jesus 'visited' others through me recently?

Scriptures:

Any scripture from the text; Is.45:15; 2 Cr. 4:7; Eph. 3:17

"TWO-ZERO-ONE-EIGHT, TIME TO EXPIATE"

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Remember that we must be a praying Church: Am I praying for our Church and our world?

A BLESSED AND JOYFUL CHRISTMAS TO ALL OF YOU!

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