December 26, 2011


I love the first preface of Christmas. I sing it all week during the octave.

...dum visibiliter Deum cognoscimus, per hunc in invisibilium amorem rapiamur.

" we recognize in him God made visible, we may be caught up through him in love of things invisible."

Maybe I like the old translation better. We used to say that in Christ we see “our God made visible and so are caught up in love of the God we cannot see.”

It's the strength of the rapiamur that gets me. Somehow to me the English 'caught up' just doesn't grab the sense of an almost violent seizing in the verb rapio, rapere.

I was thinking about this today when it occurred to me that the same verb is at the root of the term 'rapture,' the idea, based on a certain readings of 1 Thessalonians and Revelation, that the end times will include the elect being snatched out of the world to leave those who remain to suffer a period of tribulation.

But the real bite and force of Christianity is that the end time isn't exactly a temporal event we await on some schedule. The end of time and of everything else has already appeared in the person of Jesus Christ. And, as the prayer of the preface reveals, it is his birth that initiates and makes available a rapture, and not just for a certain elect, for all humanity.

The Incarnation of the Son of God makes divinity available to our humanity. In him God becomes visible, indeed tangible. And by our surrender to having his divine humanity mingle with ours in Holy Communion, the invisible God makes a home in us as our own blessedness. The Incarnation of the Son of God, and the abiding Presence of his body in the Eucharist, offers us the chance to be caught up, to be raptured into the infinite joy, delight, and creativity that we call the Blessed Trinity.

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