2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
The Stunning Visit
The Church’s liturgy beautifully prepares us for the grand feast of Christmas by putting before us the words of Zechariah. These words are among the most beautiful in the New Testament. They are a challenge to the translator to put into good English. The best I can do is the following. "Through the tender mercies of our God, the rising sun from on high did look upon (Visit) us."
The beautiful words "tender mercies" in the original Greek New Testament are "splágxnon eleous" which mean the visceral mercy of God. The words roar out the passionate parental love that God has for us. I think the Latin had it best with "per viscera misericordiae Dei nostri". God comes to us with stunning feelings of warmth and care in this great mystery of the Incarnation.
In this immense cosmos of God’s creation we might easily be led as so many are today, to believe that we are but flyspecks. They would say God could not possibly be that interested in the earth, a piece of dust, floating in the vast universe of a hundred million galaxies. And if He did show some special interest in our planet, He certainly would not be bothered with smudged and gritty humanity.
In Rome we probably have the oldest picture of the crucifixion of our Lord as a piece of graffiti on the wall of a soldier’s barracks. Under the image are the words: Alexemenos worships his god. What is striking about this image is that the head of the crucified is a head of a donkey! It is a blasphemous image mocking the faith of a Roman soldier in the second century. God would have to be a donkey to come and die for humans! This sends a chill down one’s spine and has the smell of the same unbelief in our modern world. I wonder how many in the world today believe that God so loved the world as to give His only Son? "Will the Son of Man find faith?" "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not." John 1
But even human blindness and ignorance seem in this season to be overcome by joy. I love to see all the lights and cheerfulness in the secular world during this season. Maybe even pagans deep down in their heart may hope that they might be intensely, totally and profoundly loved by God.
Fr. Bob Weiss, C.P. preaches Parish Missions and is a member of the Passionist Community in Louisville, Kentucky.