Sunday, December 23, 2018

Hands Full / Visitation / Lost Objects (2018-12-23, Advent)


December 23, 2018 (Advent- 4th week)

Micah 5:1-4a | Psalm 80 | Hebrews 10:5-10 | Luke 1:39-45

Title: Hands Full
[_01_]  Saint Anthony. Saint Anthony is naturally associated with objects. Objects that we want returned to us.
            Your headphones are lost. Your keys are lost. Your remote control is lost. Something is lost.
            We want the objects returned to us.
            We naturally associate Saint Anthony with the Lost & Found in heaven and on earth, universally.
            He knows where everything is.
            However, the reason that this tradition developed is because of his own prayer regarding an object that he lost.
            When he was in the monastery, when he was studying to be a priest. One of his brothers left the monastery and took a book that was precious to Anthony.
            So, he prayed that the book would be returned.  But, he was not just praying for the book to be returned but also for his brother to return. We can also pray for the intercession of Saint Anthony not only for objects – but also for relationships that might be lost or have lost their way.
            Anthony is really praying for his brother to return to the monaster.
[_01_]  This time of year, we associate objects with people, but not so much lost objects, but rather gifts – as objects.
            People bring gifts. Sometimes, we want to bring a gift when we go to visit someone.
            One friend of mine describes it this way – my mother taught me this ..when you go to someone’s house, you should be ringing the doorbell with your elbows. That is, your hand should be so full so loaded down with gifts, that you can only ring the door with your elbows.
            He should be invited over more often, as he would bring many gifts.
            This Sunday is the Gospel of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary  to Elizabeth. And, Elizabeth and Mary are associated with gifts, that is the gift of their children who they are carrying. Elizabeth is the mother of John the Baptist; Mary, the mother of Jesus. And, each of them has her hands full.
            They involved directly in the salvation of the whole world.  Elizabeth and Mary are mothers and they have their hands full.
[_02_]  The Gospel this Sunday is about the friendship and the perseverance of Mary and Elizabeth to be with each other to support each other.

[_03_] The other day, I happened to cross paths with an old classmate of mine. We had not seen each other for 15 years. I knew what he was doing that he was teaching at Seton Hall and in South Orange. But, still we had not visited or seen each other in 15 years.
            Unlike the episode of Mary and Elizabeth, this was not a planned encounter. We just happened to be in the same place at the same time.
            There was reminiscing, remembering … classes, teachers, people we know. We caught up in about 2 minutes the 15 years that we had missed.
            First there was reminiscing – but then there was also a need for help, for support.
            His car was in the shop, in the mechanic’s shop. He seemed to need money. He does not carry an ATM bank card.   What’s up with that? Even 15 years ago, I had an ATM card. You did too,  you had an ATM card 30 years ago,. He did not have one. I did not ask.

[_04_]   But – strangely – at least, this felt strange to me. I actually wanted to help him out.
            And, I seemingly, I had no reason. I see him once every 15 years. But, I wanted to help him out.
            I suggest this motivation was not because of my own patience (I am not very patient) …. Or my own generosity (I am not consistently generous….)
            It was because of 2 gifts.
            And, the gifts are suggested by Mary and Elizabeth.  And, the 2 gifts – which are not on any registry – are suggested by a parable of Jesus called the “The Friend at Midnight”. (Luke 11:5-8)
            In  this parable, Jesus rings the doorbell – teaching us about someone who arrives at the 11th hour, literally or not. And, the person brings 2 gifts: FRIENDSHIP and PERSEVERANCE.
            And, Mary brings perseverance as a gift to Elizabeth, and Elizabeth to Mary.
            Mary goes off road off the grid to the hill country.
            In this, seeing my old classmate – after 15 years – I was experiencing both. There was a friendship – and old friendship and there was his perseverance. His story of his car, the ATM card, the repair shop, the cold weather.
            So, I felt motivated by these 2 gifts…these 2 gifts which he – in a way – brought to me, carried to me, with his hands full.
            In the end, the book was returned to Saint Anthony. And, more importantly, his brother returned to the monastery. The brother was recovered too.
            Mary and Elizabeth also have their hands full, yet they are loving and supporting each other.   They are persevering. They are also friends I pray that this mystery of the visitation may also inspire us to seek their intercession and follow their example, whether we are the friend hearing the doorbell or ringing the doorbell.     [_fin_]  

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