Ep_010 The Visitation and Unlikely Friendships (Transcription)

Posted by Kristine Franklin

00:00:00 – 00:00:05 – Musical Intro

Kristine: Hello and welcome!

When someone says the words to you, “true friend”, what do you think of? What image pops into your mind, two buddies that have known each other since they were six years old? Do you think of the girlfriend who always calls you out when you start to gossip? There are all kinds of friends, but a true friend, scripture tells you, a true friend loves at all times and a brother is born for a time of adversity. A true friend, the best kind of friend is there for you in times of trouble and times of joy. That true friend always has your back.

God made you for communion, communion with Him, communion with others. He made you for friendship, even if you’re shy, if you’re introverted, one of those kinds of people that holds back a little bit. You still were made for love, to give and to be a true friend. The culture that you live in can make that really hard, it can make it difficult because people spend a lot of time engaging in activities that aren’t face to face and don’t have any conversation involved. I think of kids especially giving up real face time for fake face time, giving up conversation and going out for lunch together and just being together in person or even talking on the telephone and hearing one another’s voices, they’re giving that up for text messaging. They’re giving up human contact and exchanging human contact and the way real human relationships grow-they’re giving that up for text messaging. Very shallow and it doesn’t really teach a young person how to be a true friend.

We all need to learn how to be a true friend, in order to be a get a friend and have a friend you have to be able to be a friend. So, there’s a lot of confusion about what friendship means. Is it just somebody I pal around with? What’s a true friend? and don’t you want a true friend? Can you be a true friend?

Today, May 31st, there is a beautiful story of a special friendship between two super unlikely people. It’s the Feast of the Visitation and if you’re Catholic, you probably know what the Feast of the Visitation is all about, you’ve prayed that Mystery of the Rosary and the Visitation is the second Joyful Mystery,– but it’s also a place for you to stop and contemplate the story of salvation, this mystery, the Visitation. If you aren’t Catholic that’s okay, hang on because this is a treat, this is a wonderful and beautiful story, one of the best stories in the New Testament.

This story is told in the Gospel of St. Luke chapter one. So first of all, have you ever read a whole gospel? Like all the way through start to finish? Luke or Matthew or Mark or John? Just the whole thing. You can do it in one sitting. They’re not that long. It’s a wonderful spiritual practice and the best thing is you get the whole story in one sitting. You get the feel for the story and that’s important here.

The story, this story opens with an old man named Zachariah and his old wife Elizabeth. They have no kids and in their time that was considered probably a sign of God’s curse, so people might have avoided them, talked behind their backs, said, “whoa, what did they do to be so bad that they can’t have kids?” Yeah, they were like ostracized for being quote barren. Of course she was, for sure. Was God unhappy with them? But the scripture says that they were blameless, that they loved the Law and that they were blameless. So they were holy people, holy old folks who had never had a baby.

Well Zachariah was in the priestly line of Aaron. Aaron was Moses’ brother, Aaron became the high priest of the Israelite people. Every man in this family of Aaron had temple duties in a rotation, so you would — one year it would be — your number would come up and you would go to the temple and you would do your temple duties for a certain amount of time and then you would go back home to your family. So it was old Zachariah’s turn to go in and burn the incense, on the altar of incense, this was a really big deal. It was a duty that was chosen lots. In other words we don’t know if they threw dice or whatever, but it was chosen by lot which meant they believed it was chosen by God. Whose turn it was, God shows. So Zachariah’s number comes up and he is chosen to go into the Holy Place to do to do his incense duty, and he gets a visit from the angel Gabriel.

Now, remember in scripture, everyone who sees an angel is terrified and Zachariah is terrified. The angel gives this message, here’s the message. “Zachariah, you and your wife are going to have a baby boy, you’re going to name him John,” and — which in their language means God is gracious. The angel tells Zachariah that John will be special, that he’ll be set apart by a special vow that they’ll never let him drink anything from the grape, he’ll never have wine, he will let his hair grow his whole life, kind of like Samson– a Nazarite vow. So he’s going to be set apart for special work for God.

Now, here’s where it gets scary. Zachariah is hearing all this stuff and he’s terrified, but he can’t believe it also. Like what, like we’re old so — out bumbles out of his mouth well but we’re old and we can’t have kids, I mean my wife’s way past child bearing. Now, here’s the scary part — Gabriel, Gabriel the angel says this. He says, I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God. Zachariah, shut your mouth, and that will be his punishment. Gabriel tells him that because he did not believe. He’ll be mute for the entire pregnancy until the proper time. Can’t talk, not a bit. He argued with Gabriel, wait a minute, wait a minute, look I’m old, she’s old, we can’t have kids. Nope, here’s the word of the God — God delivered to you by me Gabriel who stands in the presence of God.

Now, all this is going on inside the holy place, not the Holy of Holies, but the holy place, and there are people waiting outside, they’re getting impatient, what is going on with him? How come it’s taking so long? How hard can it be to burn incense? Also they’re worried, did he do something wrong? Because if you went unworthily into the holy place, you could get struck dead. They wore bells on their clothes you know in case they died. They sometimes put a rope around their waist in case they died for being you know, doing something they shouldn’t have and they’d have to pull their body out. So, it was a big deal that he was late and they’re worried and they’re waiting, they’re waiting. It’s a really big deal because, once the priest came out of the holy place from burning the incense on the incense altar, he was to give the people a blessing and only the priest could give the people this blessing. It’s a blessing that goes like this. “The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” You’ve heard that one, right? Zachariah comes out and he’s looking stunned, really stunned but he couldn’t give the blessing, because he was mute. So he makes these frantic signs like you know maybe grab a piece — get somebody, get me a pencil. They realized he had a vision, he was unable to speak, but it says he completed his temple duties and then he returned home and soon his wife Elizabeth in her old age was pregnant. The old woman with the old husband, pregnant, just as Gabriel had promised.

Now, fast forward six months. In another village a ways away, there’s a teenage girl named Mary. One day that same angel Gabriel, the one who stands in the presence of God, appears to her. Note that she isn’t terrified, she’s confused but not terrified. She’s confused by being called “Full of Grace”. He says, “Hail, full of grace.” And she’s thinking what kind of greeting is that? Huh? What’s going on here? And Gabriel explained to Mary that she would bear a son, the one who would save his people. She’s still confused. She’s a kid, she’s also a virgin and she says, “how can this be? I’ve never known a man?” She’s not arguing with the angel, she’s not saying this cannot happen, she said how can this be, because I don’t have a husband. And he explains to her and she’s a virgin. He explains to her that the Holy Spirit will overshadow her and the child to be born will be the Son of God. Whooo, this is good.

Now of course Mary being human is confused about how this can happen. Gabriel offered some more proof. He says your cousin, old Elizabeth, you know old Elizabeth and old Zachariah, the ones with no kids? She’s six months pregnant. Nothing is impossible for God. And then Mary gives her great big huge whole hearted yes, to God and Jesus is conceived. Mary has a secret, it’s a mind boggling, unbelievable secret. She doesn’t hurry off to tell her girlfriends, she hurries off to her cousin Elizabeth, this old woman, because she knows Elizabeth will believe her. Elizabeth’s baby is also kind of miraculous not, you know, not a virginal birth, but it’s a miraculous baby because they’re past the age of childbearing.

Mary flies to her true friend, an elderly relative who lives in another town. Now, she’s super excited to get there because she loves Elizabeth and Elizabeth loves her, and she enters into the gate at Elizabeth’s house and calls out a greeting. “Elizabeth, it’s me Mary!” And scripture tells us that at that moment, Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice, little baby John the Baptist leaped in her womb for joy, and Elizabeth is immediately filled with the Holy Spirit, and she cries out in a loud voice to this teenage cousin of hers. She says, “Who am I — blessing — first of all she says, Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child in your womb.” She already knows. Either the Holy Spirit just told her or Mary sent word ahead, but she understands in that moment that this is a very — a miraculous and God-initiated pregnancy. Elizabeth knows what Mary knows. Mary is not going to be scolded or chided or shamed, Elizabeth believes. Elizabeth knows it’s true, even before she gets the details. Elizabeth, the old friend says, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

What joy! And Mary burst forth into a song of Thanksgiving that we call the Magnificat. “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Don’t you think she had just been dying to tell somebody who would get it? Dying to tell her true friend Elizabeth, her relative, the whole truth, the whole story.

The scripture says that Mary stayed for three months, presumably until John’s birth and then she goes home. Mary is going to face misunderstanding and disbelief back in her own village. She’s going to disappoint Joseph. He’s going to be afraid. He’s going to consider divorcing her. Mary needed time with her true friend Elizabeth. They supported each other and together with Zachariah, they probably just pored over the prophecies of the scriptures and looked them up and pondered them and prayed over them, all the prophecies about the Messiah– with joy and wonder and amazement and gratefulness to God that finally the Messiah was going to be born. This friendship between Mary and Elizabeth, this beautiful interaction between them, the love that they share for God and for each other, it’s a model for you.

If you’re young, do you have an Elizabeth in your life? If you’re older, do you have a Mary in your life? The culture that you live in does not encourage friendship between the generations at all. It’s almost unheard of. But you need each other, you are made for communion, for true friendship and sometimes that can be found with someone outside your group, like Mary and Elizabeth are very, very, close, unlikely friendship. In our culture it is.

If you’re a young man, do you have a Zachariah in your life? An older man, well established in his faith, virtuous, faithful, a good husband? Not somebody that you just look up to, but somebody you call friend. It takes some work, it takes some work, but it’s possible. If you’re an older man, do you have a young friend in your life? Have you made an effort at all? Or do you just think, “Young people, eehh.” I can imagine Joseph meeting Zachariah and the two of them having an instant connection, their love of God, their love for their wives, their wonder and their joy and even their confusion over the events that were unfolding. Do you have a friend like that?

The Visitation is an important feast because it’s the first recognition of Mary as the Mother of God. Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit knows it. Tradition says that when baby John the Baptist in his mother’s womb heard the voice of Mary, that it — that that was his baptism, his dedication to God, his Yes to the will of God for his life. And of course it’s a beautiful love story, the story of two true friends. It didn’t matter that there were decades between them age-wise, because their hearts were one, one in their love for God, and one in their love for each other. So, today spend some time with Mary and Elizabeth, Luke chapter one. Imagine that you are one of the servants watching the reunion. What do you think when you hear these strange words? What do you think as you watch them? Imagine you’re Elizabeth, how do you feel? Imagine you’re Mary just pregnant although still a virgin, carrying a secret that would change the whole world and you’re just bursting with joy. What must that have been like? And when they meet, the joy, maybe even tears of joy. Imagine Mary and Elizabeth spending every day together, getting ready for John’s birth, chatting, cooking, maybe making baby clothes and diapers, while silent Zachariah, wishing he could talk for sure, watches and listens and thinks about it. And then Elizabeth goes into labor and Mary is there, along with the other women from the village who help with births. Think of John’s birth, a child wished for, for decades now finally arriving.

The Visitation, it is definitely, definitely a Joyful Mystery in the life of Mary and Jesus and in your life too. Ponder it, think on it, don’t let the significance fly past you because you’ve heard the story a million times. Hear it and imagine it as though it were the first time, and allow yourself to feel the wonder and the joy.

Up next, e-mail inbox. This young engaged woman doesn’t want kids, and a mom whose teenage daughter may be up to something no good. I’ll be right back.

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Kristine: Hello, welcome back. It’s time for e-mail inbox, where you submit a question but only if you want a frank answer. First up is a letter from Julia in Santa Ana, California. She writes, “Dear Kristine, I’m engaged to be married next year, right after I graduate from college. My fiancé and I are Catholics and we will be taking in an NFP class, we are not living together. (Kristine:Good!) The problem is we’re fighting. He wants to have kids right away, but I’ve been accepted to graduate school and I want to wait until after I get my masters. This is really important to me what do you think?

Wooo. Really good question. Julia thanks for writing. You and your fiancé definitely have a problem and it’s an important one to work out. It sounds like he is ready to have kids and you’re not. And you know, the Church allows periodic abstinence, that’s what you’ll be learning in your NFP class, learning the signs of fertility and learning when marital relations would be likely to cause a pregnancy and when they would be unlikely to cause a pregnancy. What you’re — what you’ll be learning is when to avoid intercourse when you don’t or can’t have a baby. The Church allows this for grave reasons, grave means really serious. And only the two of you together can decide whether or not the reasons for abstaining are grave reasons. So you see NFP, it’s not Catholic birth control, NFP is a way to space children if you need to, or if you have a health problem, grave financial circumstances, but — and the Church doesn’t say what equals grave. You have to decide together in your own conscience. It’s not a question you could go to a priest and say, is this grave? Because only you can answer that question together. A lot of people might tell you there’s no way that going to graduate school could be grave. But the Church isn’t specific it leaves that decision to a couple.

But I am bothered by something, okay? When I read your letter, I was bothered by something– and by the way I always pray when I read — as soon as I read a letter I pray. So I did pray for you Julia and I’ll keep praying for you. I am concerned and here’s this. What is the hurry to get married if you don’t want kids yet? What’s the big hurry? You definitely want to go to graduate school and that’s important to you, but you want to get married, but you don’t want children, for a quite a while I’d say, two three years. Isn’t that how long it takes to go to graduate school? The purpose of marriage and sex in marriage in particular, is the union of husband and wife and creating children, creating a family. Julia, I’m going to ask you this. Are you getting married because you are both very anxious for sex? But you don’t want the other part of being married which is being open, truly open to having children? Maybe you won’t like this but, maybe you aren’t ready to get — maybe you’re not ready to get pregnant for sure. Maybe you’re not ready to get married, and maybe he isn’t the one. Are you willing to consider that either of these might be a possibility in your heart?

Deep down, there’s some red flag going on and you’re like, no I am not ready to have kids, I’m going to finish graduate school, that’s the most important thing. If you’re so intent on graduate school, nothing wrong with that, that’s a wonderful goal, but it may not be time for you to get married. You might want to get that graduate school out of the way first, because that is a very long time to put off having children. Also, to start a marriage with the intent to avoid children is a really great way to put the lid on a wonderful boiling kettle, your sexual attraction to one another, your God given desire for one another and the joy of being newly married. It’s all that gift of self, here we come, it’s what you’ve been waiting for.

Fertility is part of that gift of self. Is it there — is it possible that there’s some other reason you would start — you would ask your young husband to abstain for many days a month right from the start and if you slip up because hey you’re newlyweds and get pregnant, are you going to feel resentful, are you going to feel resentful? Take a step back okay, it never hurts to take a step back. You’ve got time you know, you said next year. Examine your heart really carefully, is your desire to go to graduate school truly a grave enough reason to abstain, that you could stand before the Lord and say you didn’t have a twinge of conscience about that? Remember that grave is something a couple has to look into together. Grave means really serious, really serious, and not just one of you saying, well I think it’s a grave reason. You need to decide together.

If your fiancé doesn’t think grad school is a good idea or a grave reason, sorry. If your fiancé doesn’t think grad school is a grave reason then you guys are in trouble. You need to really talk hard and get to a conclusion on that. Look honestly at your relationship, he may not — he may be a really wonderful guy, but he might not be the right guy or this might not be the right time, or he might not be the right guy and this also might not be the right time. Can you be that honest? Can you go there in prayer and ask the Lord to reveal what’s really in your heart?

Finally here’s this just this one last thought Julia. I have some friends who put off having kids for the first ten years of their marriage, okay? so they could finish school, he could get started on his medical career, she could work and they could save up money and buy a house or just a bunch of things on their list, to do list before they wanted kids. They got married really young, they got married at nineteen so they had college, graduate school, medical school, lots of stuff, lots of reasons. And I’m not saying whether they were grave or not because that’s not for me to judge. But they waited ten years, they used NFP the whole time and they thought — they would brag, we’re really good at NFP. We’ve never had a surprise pregnancy. What’s wrong with you when their friends would get pregnant, like what’s wrong with you? You know we’re really great at NFP. So she was 29 and they were done with graduate school and he was — had a medical practice and had bought their house etc, and they started to try to have a baby. And she didn’t get pregnant, and she never got pregnant, and they never had children, but they do have regrets. Go into any infertility forum, even Catholic ones and you’ll hear stories just like that. Julia, do you want children? Do you want a family? Marry the right man at the right time and my advice, you asked for it, is don’t wait, jump in, give yourself fully and freely and see what happens.

Next letter is from Deborah and she’s writing from Fort Wayne, Indiana. She writes, dear Kristine, I am a single mom with three kids. My oldest daughter is 20 and still lives at home. I’m pretty sure she uses drugs but I’m not positive. It’s just a suspicion. Anyhow, she has a job at Starbucks but doesn’t make that much money, so she starts coming home with stuff like a new phone, expensive purse and shoes, clothes, make up. Where is she getting this money? I’m so afraid she might be selling drugs. What do I do?

Well Deborah, I have to say when I read this I just — my heart just went out to you and I prayed and you probably aren’t going to like what I have to say, but you wrote and you know I’m a frank person, so here goes. This is tough but you asked for it. Remember a couple of things, let’s start with a couple of things. Your daughter lives at your house, she lives in your house and she’s an adult. She lives at your house and in your house, you have every right, if you suspect dangerous or illegal activity of any time, any kind that’s going on in your house, you have the right to search her room and her car and any place she might hide drugs. She’s living on your property, you have the right to go and look, okay?

So, you go in a room, you look under her bed, you do a good search and you find drugs, what do you do? You call the police. You call the police. If you find drugs, you call the police. I know, that’s hard to call the police on your own kid, but there’s a lot of bad things that can happen if there’s drugs found in your home and you knew about it, and you didn’t do any you know — you didn’t report it. You don’t want to get involved in any way yourself. So if you find drugs in your home, in your daughter’s room or in her car, you call the police.

If you don’t find any sign — now don’t confront her first. Don’t confront her because especially if she’s using drugs, her behavior could be erratic, it could be violent, it could be you know really manipulative, call the police. If you find illegal substances or suspicious substances in your home, call the police right away. If you don’t find any signs of drugs or drug use and you know, you said you were suspicious but you weren’t sure, and your daughter seems sober okay, you’ve got some time together at breakfast you know, she’s you know, doesn’t seem drugged at all, her pupils are the right size and everything, ask your daughter where she’s getting the money to buy all this stuff. Point out the things you just you wrote in your letter, the purse, the make-up, the new phone, where is the stuff coming from? I’m hoping and I’m trusting you know your daughter really well and if you watch her face, you’ll know if she’s lying. You might want to pretend she’s not lying, but I’m thinking you know for sure if she’s lying. You aren’t stupid, you know your kid. And sadly there are other ways that girls and boys can earn money, I hate to say this but prostitution is easy in this very big, ugly, sex-saturated world. Ask her until you get an answer, even if it’s a fight. And if you don’t get a satisfactory answer, if it’s you know — unless she says, Mom I’m working three jobs, I just don’t want to tell you because I’m saving up so that I can buy my own car. So okay, what are the jobs and what — you have a right to ask her. She’s living in your home. If she lived somewhere else and you weren’t supporting her in any way, you would — no you wouldn’t have a right to ask her, but you do because she’s living in your home.

Ask her to move out if she’s doing anything that is illegal or immoral. Tell her it’s time to move out. “Honey I love you, it’s time to move out. I’ll help you pack. You’re a grown up and it’s time for you to place, get some roommates.” Oh and if the car is yours, take it back, and if the phone is on your plan, cancel it. And if she has credit cards in your name, cancel them, so she can’t get any access to your money. This is so harsh. This is the adult world and if she’s choosing to make illegal or immoral choices in your home, you have every right to say that’s enough, because you said you have other kids and you said she’s your oldest. So I’m thinking there’s little kids around. Do you really want your little kids living with a sister who’s doing immoral, illegal things as a young adult? Maybe this is a kind of tough love that will help her open up to you about how she got into it, or what’s really going on. If it’s illegal, please call the police and you could do that with your priest there, if she confesses, yeah I’m selling drugs, mom. Get a lawyer but call the police, call the police.

I know this is hard, this is tough love, you’ve heard that, right Debra? Tough love is that you make your kids responsible for their actions, and if your daughter is using, selling, doing anything illegal or immoral to make the extra money, if she’s in a relationship with an older guy who’s treating her like a mistress and giving her all kinds of gifts, well this is an opportunity for you to say, “honey you need to get out of that relationship and let us help you.” But if she says “hey, I’m going to see whoever I want to see,” then she had a chance. Get help if you need to, have a friend there if you still speak to or have any kind of relationship with her dad, and this is something that you would agree on is a bad thing, go together, have your parish priest be there, just get some help if you don’t think you can do this alone.

Don’t let a criminal live under your roof, period. You’re endangering yourself, your endangering the other kids and I’m sorry this is so hard, look deep Deborah, ask the Lord to give you the strength to do the right thing. It won’t be the easy thing, but it will be the right thing. Thanks for writing okay. Really, thanks for writing. I’m going to be praying for you and for your daughter and I would love to hear how this plays out. Write back to me please.

If you’ve got a question and you don’t mind getting a very frank answer, go to helloandwelcomeshow.com and click on the email inbox, we read them all, pray for every request that comes in. Questions are only aired if the author is — gives their permission like Deborah. You may change the name and location if the subject is very sensitive.

God bless you and no matter what you’re going through, whether your day is joyful or difficult, remember that Jesus is near.

00:29:41 – 00:30:00 – Musical Outro