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Archive for May 31st, 2018

Lessons:

Isaiah 11: 1-5

Psalm 138

Romans 12: 9-16

St. Luke 1: 39-56

Almighty God, You chose the virgin Mary to be the mother of Your Son and made known through her Your gracious regard for the poor and lowly and despised. Grant that we may receive Your Word in humility and faith, and so be made one with Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Charles Dickens’ novel, A Tale of Two Cities  is set in  London and Paris, powerful world capitals, during the seismic upheaval of the French Revolution.  Another familiar fiction title referencing twin power centers is from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the second book, The Two Towers.  The one tower  is in the land of Mordor and the other in Isengard:  the former  tower is in the dark abode of the dark lord, Sauron  and the latter, under the control of a ‘white’ wizard Saruman tempted and fallen into the lies of Sauron. Saruman’s is called the Black Tower.  Closer to home, the twin towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan were a conspicuous sign of corporate power and influence, no doubt the reason for them being a target for the murderers from the east.

Luke began his Gospel with the narrative of the birth of John the Baptist and of Jesus and so the central figures are their Mothers: Elizabeth and Mary and the story of  their pregnancies.  Luke chapter 1 could be called, “The Tale of Two Wombs”.   

Reflect with me on the contrast between a tale of two cities and the Tale of Two Wombs.  Elizabeth bore John, the forerunner of the Christ, and Mary, the Mother of the Lord.  Both narratives have this in common: both are about power, but power of wholly/holy different kinds. Yes, power exerts influence over nations and peoples but Tolkien’s two towers  are about the power to wage war with the engines of war.    The blessed wombs of Elizabeth and Mary are about peace, the peace of God which surpasses understanding which keeps our hearts and minds in Christ (Philippians 4:7).  The cities and towers of this world offer temporal peace, the children of Elizabeth and Mary give eternal peace, not as the world gives. 

The influence of the two different twos make are considerable.  The former is terror over the hearts and minds of men and the latter comfort for sinners to repent from hatred and greed to the living God. The Gospel midst the terrors of nations is that war will one day cease and the peace of Kingdom of God will have no end.  The tale of two cities and towers are about death. The tale of the two wombs are about life, eternal life.

The figures of Saruman and Sauron fascinate us with their aura, even mysticism of the raw exercise of influence…and evil. The origin of the word “fascinate” is most interesting:

1590s, “bewitch, enchant,” from Middle French fasciner (14c.), from Latin fascinatus, past participle of fascinare “bewitch, enchant, fascinate,” from fascinus “a charm, enchantment, spell, witchcraft,” which is of uncertain origin. Earliest used of witches and of serpents, who were said to be able to cast a spell by a look that rendered one unable to move or resist. Sense of “delight, attract and hold the attention of” is first recorded 1815.

To fascinate is to bring under a spell, as by the power of the eye; to enchant and to charm are to bring under a spell by some more subtle and mysterious power. [Century Dictionary]

(Online Etymology Dictionary)

The point is another comparison between the ‘twos of this world” and the two wombs, the true stories of Elizabeth and Mary, and it lies with us, the Old Adam and Eve wanting to be like God, controlling good and evil…or we think we can. We enjoy  and are fascinated by those who are apt at the exercise of power in this world, but the tale of two wombs is  not fascinating because this is power sadly foreign in the world of sin: the power to create life and recreate life.

“Fascinate” has to do with being bewitched, under a spell.  Man needs something to break that spell.  In the stillness of the Visitation we drawn away from spells of the evil one. In Luke chapter 1, is the Verbal icon of  the sheer beauty of these two women. It is my opinion that the thousands of painting and icons of the Visitation are mute proof of the joy of this embrace.  There is no joy in Mordor nor at a guillotine, and joy abounded when Mary visits Elizabeth. When Mary goes to see Elizabeth, her kinswoman, the encounter is celebrated with this feast day:  The Visitation.  This visitation is no “power lunch”, no high stakes conference.  The Visitation is beautiful because of the great grace of God unveiled in their wombs for the fallen sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve.  There is no beauty in Mordor nor at a guillotine because it is devoid of agape, of love.  There is power  in the Visitation: the power to save and give life not to destroy and take life. If the fascination of the Old Adam is a spell and the enchantment of evil (and I think it is), then the Visitation begins to break the spell.    This is the true story of the light shining in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1) The spell is broken finally and fully at the Cross of the Son of Mary. He breaks the power of sin and evil and gives eternal life.

 

 

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