We arrive by wheelchair and walker, on 2 feet and with canes. Some move slowly and deliberately and others rush in, all business. Then quiet settles upon the group and we turn our thoughts inward. We turn our thoughts and open our hearts to the One in whose name we gather.
Bishop Joe begins by reading the Gospel narrative from Luke, 1:26-28. He suggests we ponder the mystery of Jesus through the eyes of his mother, Mary.
First, he says, Mary stands before God waiting for the promises of God to be fulfilled. Knowing Scripture and the prophets as she does, Mary knows God will be faithful. She is expectant, therefore; not too busy or distracted to attend to God’s message. Indeed, Mary is ready to hear God’s call.
It’s important to note that Mary’s readiness signifies not only her willingness to do God’s will, but God’s ongoing work within her.
As we struggle to know God’s will for us, Mary is a wonderful model. God is already at work within us!
When Gabriel comes to her, Mary clearly hears and says, “Let it be done to me as you say.” She chooses to be a servant of God’s will, no matter how inconvenient. And what an understatement: she could have been stoned to death for her unwed pregnancy!
As soon as Mary says Yes, the Word becomes Flesh. We have been so focused on the birth that we sometimes overlook the incarnation! In fact, it is the beginning of our redemption: Jesus living with us. (Read Sister Stefanie’s reflection on this blessing.)
Some further reflection questions come during Bishop Joe’s discussion of the Rosary mysteries:
When Mary is ready to give birth, there is no room at the inn. Do we have room in our hearts for one another? Do we have “No Vacancy” signs hanging around our necks?
The 1st people Jesus touches are those who everyone else excludes. The shepherds are unclean, both physically and spiritually (according to Jewish law). Who do we exclude?
At the Wedding Feast at Cana, Mary notices the wine is running low and asks Jesus to provide. In his 1st act of messiahship, Jesus creates abundance. What in our lives needs the power of Jesus? What insufficiency needs to be turned into abundant goodness?
At the crucifixion, Mary stays with her son beneath the cross. She remains faithful. This recalls the vow, I will be true in good times and bad, in sickness and in health (used in marriage, but appropriate to religious life too). Have we been true to our vocation?
Have we been true to the small, still voice within?