Chapter Sixteen: A Rainbow of Mercy.
As we journey through the Advent season, how can we keep our sights on the coming of Christ amidst the secular world’s celebration of “Hallowthankschristmas”? To search for answers, please join me on a virtual pilgrimage to Bethlehem, located in the “West Bank” of Palestine, as we explore the Church of the Nativity and the divine beacon of light leading the way. No passport necessary.
Book Excerpt. Chapter Sixteen: A Rainbow of Mercy. (The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. By: Karen Sheehy)
Genesis 10:14-15. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the covenant I have made between me and you and all living beings so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings.
A deafening silence filled the air as the proposed mystic announced the arrival of “Our Loving Mother” Mary. Thousands fell to their knees in adoration while others pointed to the sky in amazement. Cameras clicked all around as several onlookers gazed upon the sun. Curious as to what they saw, the young woman asked to see one of the polaroid pictures. There she saw a clear image of Mary, clothed in the beautiful rays of the sun. Unsure what to think, but certain that something unusual was occurring, she silenced herself for prayer as the mystic began describing her vision and divine message from Mary, “I love you all and desire your happiness. Oh how I wish to take each of you by the hand, to walk you towards my Son, Jesus Christ. Pray my rosary, dear children and meditate on it well, for these mysteries will aid you in your journey towards His light.” Struck by her words, the young woman wandered towards a nearby statue of Mary for silent prayer. Looking up, she found a beautiful circular rainbow or crown of sorts, positioned about twenty feet above the statue. Overcome with joy, she suddenly felt an intense but warm electricity passing from her heart to her right hand. Tears streaming down her face, she looked down at her rosary only to find it transformed, for the metal rings joining Christ’s Body to the prayer beads had changed from silver to gold.
There have been many documented incidents and wondrous signs which have occurred at various proposed and approved Marian apparition sites, including Fatima in Portugal, Medjugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Conyers in Georgia. In fact, on October 13, 1917, between 30,000 to 100,00 people gathered near Fatima in Portugal and witnessed the great miracle or extraordinary spinning of the sun. According to newspaper reports, this miraculous event lasted approximately ten minutes. At this same moment, the three young visionaries, including Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, reported seeing visions of Jesus, Mary and Saint Joseph blessing those in attendance.
Virtual Pilgrimage Location. The Church of the Nativity, located in the Palestinian West Bank city of Bethlehem.
The Old Testament identifies Bethlehem as the city of David, where he was anointed and crowned as king of Israel. The New Testament identifies this same city as the birthplace of Jesus, the promised Messiah. This came as no surprise to Herod, the reigning King of the Jews, for he knew about the Messianic prophecy contained within the Book of Micah (5:1), “But you, Bethlehem, too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from old, from ancient times.” King Herod, however, was not the only one who knew of the eminent birth of the promised Messiah, for at that time, astrologers from the east were also searching for the new born King of the Jews. Following the brilliant Star of Bethlehem, the three wisemen eventually found their way to Jesus’ home town of Bethlehem, where they worshiped him and brought him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, (Matthew 2:1-11). Many Christian theologians claim that this star fulfilled the “Star Prophesy”, mentioned by Moses in the Book of Numbers (24:17), “A star shall advance from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel that shall smite the brows of Moab…….till…….Jacob shall overcome his foes.”
Directly beneath the altar of the Church of the Nativity, one finds the Grotto, or rectangular cavern of Jesus’ birth. Pictured left is the marble staircase leading down to the silver star marking the very spot where Christ is believed to have been born. Above the star is a Latin inscription which reads, “Here of the Virgin Mary Jesus Christ was born.” This Latin inscription is our beacon of light during the craziness and distraction of this time, for, there, in a cave in Bethlehem, we find simplicity, and Mary, the Mother of God leading us towards her Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as we celebrate the season of Advent and joyously anticipate the coming of Christ, I suggest that we too, keep our lives simple, turn towards our Spiritual Mother, Mary, and constantly search for the signs and wonders directing us towards the light of God’s love.
In closing, consider Cardinal Ratzinger’s remarks (Pope Benedict), “No apparition is indispensable to faith. But this does not stop God from speaking at times through simple people and through extraordinary signs which point to the shortcomings of our prevailing rationalistic culture.” What is important about these types of occurrences is not necessarily the “scientific validity” of these events but the “spiritual fruits” they produce in the lives of Christian people. During this Advent season, I pray that we:
- keep our eyes focused on Christ,
- strive to discover and appreciate the many signs and wonders which fill up the pages of Sacred Scripture and lives of our Catholic saints,
- focus on the spiritual meaning of our customs and symbols, including the Advent wreath, Christmas lights, trees, presents, manger scenes, etc.
- realize that all things should point us towards the light of God’s love and the coming of His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Closing 3:00 p.m. prayer for Divine Mercy.
Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.
For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).
Jesus, I trust in You.
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