The Gospel we just heard is the gospel of the Annunciation,
the feast that was eight months and twenty-five or twenty-six
days ago. The feast we are about to celebrate on Christmas is
the completion of that great Incarnation story. Mary's comments
are fairly amazing because what the angel Gabriel says to her
is that she is going to experience something that is absolutely
unique among the Jewish people. Nobody had ever experienced the
power of the Most High coming upon them or being overshadowed
by the Holy Spirit. She had no idea what Gabriel was talking
about. The amazing thing is she didn't simply say "what
does that mean" or "how is this suppose to happen."
The amount of faith she had to simple say: "okay, whatever
that means, yes". Mary choosing to trust God in the midst
of amazing circumstances. "How can this be, since I do
not know man?" "How can I have a son, when as God knows
I have already committed myself to remaining a virgin".
Mary knew God knew that, Mary figured Gabriel probably knew that
if God knew that. And so she asks how can this be. Gabriel explains
it to her, or at least describes what's going to happen (sort
of ). With that limited description she has enough faith to say
"Fine, let it be done with me according to your will".
The amount of grace that that took is amazing. And what happened
next of course is even more amazing.
The first reading we hear David concerned because God did not have a home to dwell in. In this Gospel we have the perfect fulfillment of what happened when God finely decided to have a home to dwell in. In our first pilgrimage to Israel we stopped and celebrated Mass in a little church way up on the side of a hill just outside Jerusalem. This little tiny chapel was called Mary the Ark of the Covenant. We celebrated Mass there . And there are beautiful Icons that describe Mary as the Ark of the Covenant. Mary as
the perfect temple in which the Holy Spirit chose to dwell in
such a profound way that it resulted in the Incarnation of Jesus
The first reading seemed a little out of character with the Gospel until you think about what both of them were talking about. They're both talking about the dwelling place of God. The Old Covenant had its short comings; God dwelling in a temple built by human hands, verses God coming to dwell in an amazing way in a virgin. The power of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in this amazing, unique way touching the life of Mary in so profound a way as to bring about the Incarnation of Jesus Himself. She said "yes", and because she said yes, we are celebrating today. Because she said yes our salvation, this kind of final dramatic turn of how God wanted to reveal Himself to us, began in Nazareth. And we rejoice today, almost two millennium later because she said " yes." Because not only did she say yes, but in a miraculous way we were entrusted to her on the Cross when Jesus said "behold your Mother, " as is pointed out in the book of Revelation when we have that great image of Mary crowned as Queen of Heaven. John sees her in the clouds with a crown of twelve stars, and it talks about the dragon who is waiting to try to consume her child. She who is going to give birth to the one who'll rule the nations with a rod of iron. And the Child is protected.
Interestingly, John records in Revelation: "The dragon goes to make war on Her seed". Not the Son, but the rest of her seed . Well, who is Mary's seed, she only had one son? Who was her seed but us? The rest of the followers of Jesus, in a very special way, we are her seed. She is our mother as Jesus pointed out on the Cross. When we approach the Feast of the Birth of Jesus it's a good time to look at our relationship with Mary to see whether or not we are taking advantage of all the grace that Jesus wants to offer us through a relationship with such a Queen. It isn't enough to just look at her and say 'good example'. It isn't enough to say well it was nice that back then this particular lady was faithful. The Church has recommended for two millennia that the followers of Jesus have a filial relationship with the Mother of God. Because in some mysterious way this is how Jesus wants His grace, His blessing and His power to continue to come to us. We, in many ways, are like Mary when she heard what Gabriel said to her. We have no idea how it works, we simple trust that God does what He says He's going to do. He knows what's going on, He knows how it works, and we don't have to. We simple say 'Yes, let it be done to me according to your word". Most of our relationship with Jesus is composed of mysteries that we act like we are familiar with, but we have really no idea what is going on. In a couple minutes the greatest of all of them will be celebrated on the Altar: "Take this all of you and eat it, this is my Body." The Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Himself, will in a miraculous way become present to us to receive, to consume, to adore. Let us ask Jesus to deepen our experience of the mystery of what it is we celebrate: the mystery of the Lady's presence in our life, the mystery of the Incarnation, the mystery of His presence in the Eucharist; that we would not be casually familiar with the greatest mysteries that God has made available to us; that with a deep sense of reverence and awe and zeal we would open our hearts more and more to these great mysteries that He offers to us.