Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
It is that time of year when most of us prepare to visit (or be visited by) relatives. It is that time of year that we either dread or look forward to.
Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth to share the Good News. Mary visited the prophet Simeon who had some not-so-good news to share with her. But as we all know, it was all good. It was all for God’s glory. It may not have been what Mary and the prophets had suspected or suggested, but it was all in God’s glorious plan.
Today was a very interesting day for me. I didn’t have many appointments scheduled. I thought it would be a good day to get some unfinished work done. I was wrong.
It started bright and early with the 6:45 morning Mass. I had some parishioners that wished to talk to me about some very profound issues. I would like to take this time to tell everyone that it is not easy to come up with a homily (that early in the morning) let alone answer some pretty deep theological or spiritual questions. I did the best I could and went straight to the 8:00 morning Mass.
After that, it was a day filled with unexpected visits. I received a few friends this morning that wanted to wish me a very warm Christmas. They showered me with cards, gift cards, stuffed animals (interesting…), cakes and cookies! It was all very nice, but I was feeling bad because I still had not finished my meditation. So, I was itching to get back to my office and pray. As soon as I did, I received a phone call from the front desk. A person wanted to see me. They were claiming to be possessed by something, a demon or an evil spirit. I went down to greet the person and found three people waiting for me. I brought them to a room to talk. The one claiming to have problems was the boyfriend of a young woman whose father had brought them in to talk. The father immediately wanted to show me pictures from his cell phone of the strange occurrences. The young girl immediately informed me that her boyfriend had been seeing dead people. I cut them all off. I asked each one how long it had been since they had gone to Church. The father responded, “Just a year - as if a year was not bad. I asked the young man if he was Catholic. He said, “Yes.” I asked him how long it had been since he had gone to Church. He responded, “Two months.” I was pleased. Then I asked him how long it had been since his last confession. He told me that it had been a very long time. “This is the problem. If we are far away from the Lord, some pretty nasty things can begin to happen.” I didn’t get any further than that because as soon as I began to speak, the father got up and told his daughter and her boyfriend to get up and go. He said to them, “We went to the wrong priest! The only thing he wants us to do is go to Church! That’s the reason why I left the Catholic faith!” I tried to stop them but they kept walking. Before they went out the door I told them, “Merry Christmas.”
I got back to my office and began to pray. But as soon as I closed the door, the phone rang. It was an emergency phone call. Someone needed the anointing of the sick and they needed it immediately. I left and arrived at Parkland within a half-hour. I got there in time and as I was leaving, I decided to stop by at the Chaplain’s office to say hello to a friend. When I entered the office, the receptionist there asked me if I could go visit another two patients. Externally I was peaceful. Internally, I was upset. But of course I did it.
‘Tis the season to visit people. But what we do when we visit people will depend upon what we did the entire year. Mary was prepared for Gabriel because she was a woman after God's heart. Joseph was ready for Mary because he was a man of God. Elizabeth was ready for Mary because she was a woman of prayer. Joseph and Mary were ready for Simeon because they were a holy family. Simeon was ready for Jesus because he believed in God's promises.
May your steps be quick, your visits plentiful and your presence always helpful. This Christmas, make sure to share God’s blessings with friends, strangers and family. May you bless others with kind and loving words and may the Father bless you with a greater love and knowledge of His only Son. May the Son’s word be your only words. May your voice be sweet and your eyes inviting, for you are lovely in His eyes. (cf. Song of songs 2:14)