The Nativity of the Lord (day) 2022: The Visita

Sorry only now posting! Today’s homily is for The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) Mass During the Day, December 25, 2022, and the readings can be found by clicking here. The video of the homily is here.

There are four Gospels that each, in their own particular way, teach us about Jesus Christ. Each Gospel is unique in many ways, but yet similar in many ways too. One of the ways in which they are unique is quite fascinating to me–namely, how the Gospel writer answers the question  “Where did he come from?” 

Mark’s Gospel has no answer at all. It simply begins with Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan river. Luke’s Gospel teaches us the poverty of God, the humility of God, taken on human flesh, and born in a manger. This God has come for everyone–especially the poor. Matthew’s Gospel has Magi appearing from the East in search of a King! In the line of King David, God’s promise of a Messiah has come to fulfillment. This time of the year we don’t hear from Mark’s Gospel because he doesn’t talk about the baby Jesus, and we always see Luke and Matthew’s Gospel because we enjoy our Nativity Scenes so much! 

Today is John’s Gospel…no shepherds, no magi, no kings, no baby Jesus. John teaches if you want to know where Jesus came from, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things came to be through him…The true light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world.” In Jesus, the fullness of God, the eternal and invisible Word has visited his people. It’s the greatest visita of all time. The visita of vistas!

Visitas are an important part of the Portuguese community and way of life. Sadly, in our busy life, visitas are few and far between. A visita is just a visit. That’s all. It seems quite simple on the surface of it, but there’s something much deeper and more important going on–something that I think we’re missing in our communities today. A visita is about hospitality, about catching up, about surprises, about sharing food and stories, but mostly it’s just about being present to those you love. It’s about dropping by, knocking on the door, and entering into each other’s lives–because we care. That’s what love does–it gets all up in the business. It looks into the eyes of the ones we love and asks, how are you doing? I’m here to support you, to love you, to be with you through your joys and sorrows.

I mentioned our good friend’s, the Seeleys, last Sunday. Every we drive through Salinas we just pop in to say hello. That’s what Christmas is all about. It’s God popping into our world to say hello. It’s God’s visita. That’s what love does. Love doesn’t stay far away, far off unaware and unconcerned about our concerns. Out of love for us, God got out of his comfort zone, was inconvenienced, and was born in a manger, the king not just of Israel, but of everyone and everything. 

We live in a world that has become too busy and too independent for visitas. We mind our own business, we don’t want to inconvenience, we don’t make the time, and we don’t want to be bothered to host at the last minute or at an unexpected hour…and it’s killing us. If this pandemic  taught us only one thing, it’s that we need each other. We need relationships. We need to see each other, visit each other, spend time with each other…and already we’ve forgotten, haven’t we? 

Today we are reminded. Christmas is about intruding. It’s about knocking on the door, singing Christmas carols, or saying, “I’ll be over…I’m on my way.” But it’s also about receiving. It’s about opening our heart and mind, and home to another. We welcome imperfect family without judgment, and we become a gift to one another. Christmas is about God entering our world. Entering our heart. Entering our imperfect lives. But we have to allow it. We have to open the door. Enjoy your visitas with Jesus, family, and friends. God wants to enter our heart and home. Merry Christmas. 

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