An elderly couple was just settling into bed one night when the phone rang. The husband got out of bed and went into the living room to answer the phone. His wife could hear him say, "Hello?" Then he said, "Sure is." He hung up the receiver and went back to bed.
A minute later, the phone rang again. The husband got out of bed and went into the other room and his wife could hear him say, "Hello?" again and then he said, "Sure is" again. He hung up the receiver and went back to bed. The wife asked who it was. The man said he didn't know.
A minute later, the phone rang again. The husband got out of bed and went into the other room and his wife could hear him say, "Hello?" Then he said, "Sure is." He hung up the receiver and went back to bed. The wife asked again about the caller. The man said he didn't know who it was.
The wife then asked, "Well, what did the person say? He said, "It's odd. A woman just keeps saying, "Long distance from the Philippines."
It was quite a long distance from Nazareth, where the Blessed Mother lived, to Ein Karim, where Elizabeth was. But with Jesus in her womb and with Joseph beside her, she had enough strength to travel through the hills and mountains of Judah. She heard from angel Gabriel about Elizabeth’s carrying a child and she did not waste any time at all.
Mary left the confines and security of her own home and gifted Elizabeth with a visit and His presence. Upon seeing her approaching, Elizabeth cried out with joy and said, “How is it that the Mother of my Lord comes to me?” She saw her, but the baby in her womb felt His presence.
By going out of herself, Mary mirrors the outward movement of God, who chose to intervene in human history that salvation might become a reality. By going out of herself, Mary brought her child to the mother of the Baptist yet to be born. By going out of herself, Mary took the risk and taking risk is essential to Christian living and theology.
If God did not take the risk of letting go, the Incarnation would not have happened. If Jesus did not take the risk of letting be, there would not have been a Bethlehem and a Calvary. And, if Mary did not take the risk of letting God do his will, we would have still been chained by the corruption of sin.
When one goes out of oneself, one establishes a relationship with another. When relationships are established, we get to learn more about each other’s story and about each other’s journey. We enter into each other’s joys and pains, each other’s expectations and problems. However, it is when we get to know each other more that we begin to ask questions. And once we begin asking questions, sometimes the answers we get are unforeseen, unwanted and unexpected.
Not too far from us in a place called Newtown, 20 children took the risk of going to school one morning and they never made it home that evening. 20 children took the risk of leaving their homes and by the end of that day, they returned to a different home, a heavenly one. But that evening, as we watched the news, 20 children made us question about our relationships we have and they made us appreciate more the value we have of life and family.
Like Mary’s visit to her cousin, we also need to visit and revisit ourselves, our values, and our faith. And for that, we need to take some risks. There are so many things that we do not understand in life that we need to rely on faith. There are so many other things that we do not understand about love and loving that we just need to rely on trust.
Sure is. It is a long distance from the Philippines. However, on bended knees, with hands clasped in prayer, risking ourselves for love and in living, it is just a short distance to the heart of God.
23 December 2012