had a motorcycle accident three years ago. As a result his right leg
was amputated above the knee. He became known in the locality as "Punkol,
the maimed one," as he hobbled around using a crutch. People
pitied him. He appreciated their kindness but felt deeply hurt at
being an object of pity. Children sometimes jeered him; this was painful
but he sometime went along with it to get attention; it was better
to be jeered than to go unnoticed.
then there was the VISIT. Tony, a distant cousin, returned from the
United states and dropped in on the family. Johnny was not expecting
anything from the visit and sat in a place where his stub would be
concealed. Before leaving Tony called Johnny aside. "Gaw, (Cousin),"
he asked, "would you like to walk again?" "It is my
dream most nights. But it is impossible!" said Johnny. "How
about an artificial leg?" asked Tony. "I asked about one,"
said Johnny, "The cheapest one is 15,000.00. Even 15.00 is big
money for me. No way. Since I lost my leg and my job, life has been
really hard for me and my wife and my child." "The artificial
leg will be my advance Christmas gift to you," said Tony. Not
only was Johnny walking for Christmas, but he also got his self confidence
and his job back. We will never forget that VISIT. The story of Johnny
could be a modern version of a Gospel miracle.
the Bible we often read of God coming into someone's life through
a visit of an angel or of a human being. The Gospel of St. Luke begins
with an angel visiting Zechariah and another visiting Mary to bring
them the news of the extraordinary conception of their children, John
and Jesus, respectively. Zechariah declares in his canticle "Blessed
be the Lord God of Israel because he has visited his people and set
them free." More than half of the Gospel of St Luke is telling
about Jesus visiting people, having meals with them, and then something
happens. Visits are signs of love. One wants to visit the person one
loves. Very often something happens in a visit. A new relationship
is set up. A new plan is hatched, a problem is solved. We find Jesus
curing the lepers as he visits a town. As he visits Caphernaum he
cures the centurion's servant and at Nain he brings the son of the
widow back to life. He scandalizes the Pharisees by often eating at
the homes of people who, to them, were sinners. Not all visits are
at first successful. Jesus' final visit to Jerusalem was apparently
a disaster - he received no hospitality, only crucifixion and death.
But resurrection came from this death.
Gospel records a very special visit; that of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth.
The story is often used to point out Mary's charity, her reaching
out to the need of another. Having often observed the special depth
and vivacity with which pregnant women talk to one another, I see
the story first of all as a story about Mary's humanness. She wanted
to share the wonder and joy and mystery of the new life within her,
and who would be more receptive to hear her, than someone who was
having the same experience. But she was also carrying the saviour
of the world and Elizabeth was carrying John, the precursor. As the
mothers met the child in Elizabeth's womb leapt for joy. She declared
"Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your
womb... Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord's words to her would
be fulfilled." Mary broke into the Magnificat: "My soul
proclaims the greatness of the Lord
is a sense in which each of us carries the Lord within us and in which
each of us is a precursor of Christ. When we meet one another in either
planned or chance visits we can support one another in pain, strengthen
one another in sorrow, and guide one another in confusion. We can
be God's presence to one another.
I think, we will only be a visit of Christ, or of his precursor, to
one another to the extent that we are present to the divine presence
which is within ourselves like a fetus in its mothers womb. When we
give attention to that presence we can also give birth to it when
we visit one another. Meditation is a way of being present to it.
It is a school in which we learn, amongst other things, to know how