Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Visitors ARE Welcome!
'Let every one who comes in the name of the Lord be received', instructs the Didache, the second-century 'teaching' of the early Church. Secretly, I hope this instruction doesn't include door-to-door sales folk and the like!
I propose, then, this really means we must allow our Lord to put people into our lives to accomplish His gracious purposes. We must, therefore, be open to a God-ward life, one that allows the Spirit to move and work. For the presence of visitors can be a very powerful sign of God's love, a tangible expression of God's provision and abiding presence.
Maybe you’ve experienced the joy of a bedside visit from a loved one while in the hospital. Consider the joy a tornado-ravaged town feels when the relief workers show up. The happiness that babies express on their face when you open the door and peer into their rooms when they are supposed to be sleeping is almost palpable. Oh the joy captives experience when the guards visit them and open the door! Visitors, if we allow them, bring us profound joy.
Consider today's great feast, the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin, preserved for us in St. Luke's gospel: had Elizabeth turned a deaf ear to Our Lady's visit, St. John the Baptist, still a babe in her womb, would have never been 'filled with the Spirit' and certainly wouldn't have 'lept with joy'. There was a certain aspect of openness to the Lord at Elizabeth's home, a certain willingness to receive God's presence through another person – in this instance through the Mother of Our Lord. We shouldn't miss that point.
Likewise, we are not only called to be 'Christ-bearers' in the traditional missional sense, but we are also called to allow visitors to come unto us; we are called to give and receive. And we are given the grace so to do through the Sacrament of holy Baptism.
I once heard a priest recount a homily in which he heard the late Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, describe Jesus' washing of the disciple's feet primarily as a metaphor which describes a necessary ingredient for effective discipleship, for unless we allow Jesus to wash us, first and foremost in our Baptisms, and again and again through the Scriptures and the Eucharist, we cannot begin to serve Him. We simply don't will to serve and make it so all on our own; we must be first given the grace. Apart from the True Vine, as St. John's gospel so aptly reminds us, we can do nothing.
This grace, this transformation of the soul, comes, quite often, by 'welcoming visitors in the name of the Lord'. Now, lest you think I'm brow-beating and just asking you to 'play nice' with everyone on the playground, I'm actually drawing our attention to yet another way the Living God manifests His presence in the world. I'm saying that God very much still visits us, especially through our interactions with visitors of all sorts.
And may we never forget that it is only through that great visit, the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus, when the Word became flesh, that we have access to the Father through fellowship with the risen Christ.
So the question for us is pretty simple: will we let down our guards long enough for God to use visitors to bless us for His purposes? If and when we do, don’t be surprised, dear ones, that our own souls, like the Blessed Virgin’s, will abound in love, and forgiveness, and peace, and joy, and singing (Colossians 3:12-17).
And while we're at it, we should probably offer to share a watermelon margarita with our visitors! Summer is here; the melons are ripe and tasty!
Summer Watermelon Margarita
Makes four drinks
1 cup of sugar, plus some for the rim
Salt for rim
2 cups of purified water
1.5 cups fresh squeezed lime juice
2 cups of fresh watermelon juice
Triple-distilled vodka or other neutral grain spirit (substitute tequila if you wish)
Fresh watermelon wedges for garnish
Splash of Club Soda
Slice a watermelon and push through a sieve (a fine mesh colander will work, too) to collect the juice; set mixture aside. Make sugar water by bringing 2 cups of water to a boil and then adding sugar; stir and remove from heat. Set aside to cool. Squeeze limes.
In a bowl, combine the sugar mixture and the lime juice. You now have homemade sour mix! You should never buy that sticky corn syrup mess!
In a tall glass with a half sugared and half salted rim, add ice, pour in desired amount of vodka, rum, or tequila. Add watermelon juice until the glass reaches half full. Add enough sour mix to take the glass to ¾ full. Then, add a splash of club soda. Stir and garnish with a watermelon wedge and serve.