Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fifth Day of Sapientiatide

Song of Songs 2:8-14 / Luke 1:39-45

It is altogether natural, a basic and healthy part of human life, to be drawn to and inspired by excellence. It is right that we should be attracted to an impressive athlete, a beautiful singer, or a powerful orator. It is likewise right and proper for those who are drawn to the same person on account of his excellence to be drawn to one another in friendship, even in love, for one another: the mutual fans of a movie star, avid readers of a talented novelist, or the staff of a gifted politician. In their love for the one who excels, they are moved to love others with the same insight, the same passion.

We see something of this in the mystery of the Visitation, something of this kind of infectious love. Mary, after all, did not travel leisurely but rather in haste to the hill country to visit Elizabeth. John leaped with joy even while still in his mother's womb at the arrival of his Lord. Elizabeth, though older than Mary by far, was more than merely pleasantly surprised at her arrival. She was overjoyed and humbled in awe and love, that the mother of the Lord should come to her.

Now, while there is a natural love among those who mutually admire the same person, we do not normally imagine that the one who inspires our love from afar by his excellence actually cares about us. If we are sane and sound of mind, we grant that he might love us in a remote and general sort of way, the way a celebrity says she is grateful for her fans. Even so, unless we are unhinged, we do not imagine that she loves us personally.

Yet, with Jesus Christ, we find just the opposite. However intense and infectious our love and longing for him, all the more, and infinitely so, is his love and longing for us. It is Jesus Christ who leaps across the hills to greet us, Jesus Christ who peers through the lattices to catch even a glimpse of us. It is Jesus Christ who speaks sweetly as though it is not we who need to win his love, but rather that he, like a young and earnest love, so deeply needs to win ours.

This is the source of our Advent hope in the last days before we celebrate Christ's birth. We need not fear that we have not done enough this season to draw close to God when God is so desperate like a lover to draw close to us. When his love for us is so strong, so certain, we have no cause for fear or doubt. If our souls are still burdened in any way, we can be assured that the winter of sin is past, the rains of sorrow are over and gone. Hear, then, the voice of Jesus Christ: Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one, and come!

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