Carrying Christ Unseen

[A Rosary Meditation on the 2nd Joyful Mystery – The Visitation]

I am very fond of this Orthodox icon known as 'The Virgin of the Sign'. The iconographer wants us to 'read' the image and have it speak to our hearts. The icon is not specifically a 'nativity' icon; and yet to me it 'speaks' vastly of what St. Luke intended to portray in the Gospel account we call 'The Visitation' [Luke 1: 39-45]. Please take a moment to gaze upon the icon and imagine you are Elizabeth as your eyes catch Mary approaching.

The Orthodox tradition sees in this Icon, Mary as the whole Church (a living Holy Temple) which brings Jesus into the world. I find contemplation of this Icon also conveys (at least potentially), what St. Francis envisioned when he spoke of our 'Being mothers to our Lord Jesus'.

Contemplating the image of Jesus - now in the young Virgin – we see the promised Emmanuel (God with us). In Luke's account, Jesus is still unseen and unknown to the world. Even so, upon hearing Mary's voice, Elizabeth and the unborn John do 'perceive' Him.

From the first moment of conception in Mary's womb Christ is fully active (by virtue of his Divine Personhood), and free to bring about the Will of his heavenly Father who sent him. Because Mary is 'full of grace' she in no way obscures her Son's presence. Since the Virgin is carrying Christ yet unseen, she is able to call out to Elizabeth: and in doing so have her voice speak 'the unheard voice of Jesus', who summons the Holy Spirit upon them all.

The gathering in the 'hill country' of Mary with Elizabeth is in some way an early glance into Pentecost. John is 'quickened' as his cousin draws near; Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, is brought to great joy; and Mary herself bursts into high praise which has come to be known as 'The Magnificat'. Isn't this burst of life, joy and praise, a 'prior echo' of what will happen a lifetime later to the Apostles and Mary in the 'upper room'?

Our Lady is always pleasing her Son by carrying him unseen to where he must be. What of our Lord's desired to be carried by you and me to where he wishes to be? Is this so strange? Isn't this the manner Jesus has chosen to move among us until the day in which he returns in glory? Within the span of time past, our Lord's earthly presence was so incredibly brief. Had his presence ended on Calvary we would be pitiable. But he intended for us to have life 'in Him, with Him and through Him'. And even more mysteriously the Divine Son desires to incarnate his life 'in us, with us, and through us'.

'The Virgin of the Sign' calls me to be a 'holy temple'. (Do you sense its beckoning?) I find joy in knowing that this 'Infant God' has called me to bring him forth into the world: something that is both a task and a privilege. And for me the lament of life comes when I somehow fail the task and bring obscurity and darkness in place of Love.

This is very much about whether we have heard and understood the call to be Disciples of Christ. About whether we have allowed and cultivated the transformation which began at our baptism: a mission to 'carry Christ unseen'. And yet have Him be recognized in our Christ-like presence, words and deeds. He is most recognized in our love and pardon.

This carrying out of God's will through our presence and actions, wherein we become the Lord's hands and voice, is a vocation that needs to be contemplated and nurtured. We are fed in diverse ways; but most essentially through Scripture and Sacrament.

This is the spiritual journey: where disciples walk all roads and bring about a perpetual state of 'Visitation' to our neighbors. This is the consequence of our one baptism: and our ongoing repentance, conversion, metanoia. All of them speak so eloquently of our transformation into what has been called the 'mystical body of Christ'.

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1 comment:

Barb, sfo said...

Merry Christmas to my brother in SFO! Thank you for letting me know of your blog. You have many wonderful reflections here. I will definitely be returning to visit again.