It’s hard to reach people outside the Church with the message of Christ.
But that’s the people you’re supposed to reach with evangelization!
Most people that start in the RCIA (the process for joining the Church) already know something about Catholicism.
But, they’re the brave ones–the 20% with enough gumption to walk through the doors.
There’s probably another 80% that have questions but aren’t ready to take that step.
However, like God, we have to find ways to reach out to people that need a nudge in the right direction. And, I was convicted of this recently by watching the old movie Jesus of Nazareth.
Olivia Hussey and the Magnificat Scene
I just got Jesus of Nazareth as a gift last week from an RCIA candidate. So I started watching it with my kids. I forgot how powerful it was. The cinematography is incredible.
First of all, Olivia Hussey has to be the greatest Mary ever. She’s so stunningly beautiful and pure looking. She just looks the part! I like to think that Mary really did look exactly like Olivia Hussey. But even better!
My absolute favorite scene is when Mary visits Elizabeth–the Magnificat scene. It is so powerful.
Notice how, around the middle of the scene, the camera shifts from front-on head shots of Mary and Elizabeth to a wide shot. You see them both from farther away and they are framed by the two arches in the background.
It reminds me of Fra Angelico’s painting of the Annunciation. The Angel Gabriel (on the left) and Mary (on the right) are similarly framed by two arches.
It’s like the arches separate the divine from the human. Each has a separate space and they don’t connect. They’re quarantined off from each other.
But see how the angel leans in toward Mary? He takes the initiative to close the distance.
The angel is lower than Mary as well and she holds her stomach. The Incarnation must have just happened and Gabriel bows in reverence to the presence of God in Mary’s womb.
Mary reaches out first
In the Jesus of Nazareth scene, it’s now Mary on the left and Elizabeth on the right. They’re also separated by the arches.
However, Mary is the representative of the divine now. Like the angel before, she’s bringing God’s presence into this home, this world.
And Elizabeth kneels, making herself lower than Mary to acknowledge the divine inside her.
Then, at the end of the scene, Mary takes the initiative. She bridges the gap. She moves from the separation of her arch and reaches out to Elizabeth.
God reaches out first
In watching this scene, it struck me that it’s God who first takes the initiative. It’s God who first reaches out to us.
We were quarantined off from God by sin. The divine and the human each had their separate places, so to speak, and the two were not connected.
To save this sin-ravaged creation, God bridged the gap by becoming one of us. He moved into our separation to free us from it and connect us to himself.
God first became Incarnate in Mary and she brought him to Elizabeth…and then to the world.
Take the initiative and reach out first
We in turn hold the presence of Christ in our souls through Baptism and the Eucharist. Christ indwells us and as baptized Christians, we’re called to bring him out into the world.
Taking the initiative, like God and Mary, it’s our job to bridge the gap, to close the distance with those who haven’t yet encountered his presence.