Opening to the light
"Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation." Our collect for today does not ask for the grace of a daily visitation from God as so many of the collects do, but already assumes it. Jesus already comes to us daily, most directly and humbly at this altar but also in a hundred other ways if we could but apprehend him. Jesus who already lives completely in us, waits to be discovered by us. He waits to be our homeland, known and lived in.
"Restore us O God of hosts; show the light of your countenance and we shall be saved." What if for some reason we can’t see Jesus? What if, because of shame, or guilt, or confusion of spirit, the light of Jesus’ face is veiled and dark to us?
As has been pointed out by others, it may have been out of distress that Mary runs to see her cousin Elizabeth. It is not often remembered that a woman found in Mary’s condition was, by decree of the law, under sentence of death. But in this encounter, Elizabeth’s recognition of the mystery of God taking flesh in Mary is the beginning of Mary’s restoration, the beginning of an opening to light. "How is it that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" At that moment Elizabeth’s prophetic insight sets something loose in the world that can never again be contained. More importantly, it sets something loose in Mary that the enormity of her situation had not to this point allowed her to see.
Maybe the most challenging part of discovering Jesus is the fact that Jesus chooses where and whom and what he will inhabit, and how. This is why we ask for purity of conscience, that by it we may have the grace of availability, of hospitality, even under the most difficult of conditions. We need it, for the light of the face of Jesus may come to us from any quarter, not only from where we expect.
To the degree that we recognize Jesus among us, to that degree we will be grounded in Jesus who lives in us, and even this homely ground we live on will become sacred space. Blessed are they who have believed that God’s promise to them would be fulfilled.