Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
It’s Tuesday night, we’re finishing up Confirmation rehearsal for this weekend, as well as two periods of Religious Education Confessions tonight. Today we ordered the flowers for Easter Masses and did some final planning for Easter Sunday. And it’s snowing outside on the Solemnity of the Annunciation! Enough, right? March 25th last year was already Monday of Holy Week!
God is full of surprises. Take the observance we have, for example, of the Annunciation of Mary. It is the feastday of the Incarnation of Jesus. In fact, I wonder why they don’t call it that? It is clearly the Mystery that everyone is thinking of at Christmas, the Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord, or Birth, but the actual event happens in silence, nobody realizes it. The Son of God actually became Man at the moment of his conception by the Holy Spirit in Mary. It should be proclaimed from the rooftops: the feast day that is ultimately Pro-Life. And yet, it was a secret at least to Mary and Joseph, the shepherds at the birth, finally all of us at the Epiphany. And it goes by unnoticed by most people every year, exactly nine months before the birth of Jesus.
I’m guessing that Mary shared the story among the Apostles and her friends and it became part of the Tradition of the Church’s deposit of faith somewhere between the writing of the Gospel of Mark and the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. It is an intimate moment that can only be described by the one who received the Word of God.
I say God is full of surprises because this just isn’t how we would do it, is it? We would be facebooking and tweeting and texting and blogging. You know it’s true, and you know we are a little crazy. But God does all of this in silence. He has begun his work, he has a plan. The plan is unfolding already, and he begins to reveal it little by little – first to shepherds, then pagans, then everybody who listens to him and grows in faith. The faith grows because, as God is revealing his truth, there is positive proof that God is already working which allows our faith to grow on the fact that God is already present. It isn’t a life-or-death choice that confronts us. It is a Word that comes to us that is already in motion, a fruitfulness that we can already see. In the context of the past, it makes sense to our rational nature. Of course, that is no surprise: God made us with a rational nature, human reason, and then speaks to us in a way (words and deeds) that is reasonable. It is in our power to know, understand, grow in wisdom and share the truth that we have found.
It’s like this in all of life. If you find yourself confused, or not fully understanding something about God, or life, or death, or spirituality, or the gifts through which God is calling you to full life in him — well, just wait a bit for the revelation to unfold. So much of our life in God is waiting for him to reveal what we need when it is his time, and we receive it in patient trust knowing that God isn’t going to ask us to do something and then leave us alone to somehow make it happen by ourselves. We know that the plan is in place, the work is already begun, even if we don’t clearly see it right now, because that is how God is. He prepares the world for what is coming, and then helps us to grow into his call.
It is the center of Lent now. It might be the deepest moment of inquiry that you have ever known, it might be a time of doubt, even confusion. The world has done its best to overshadow the message of Jesus and we need to acknowledge that for the evil that it is. But with our confidence in God and his plan we know that all we need to be is attentive and faithful. Keep listening! Keep watching! In time we will see the depths of his love for us, the way in which he lays down his own life so that we might live, and suddenly it all makes sense.
God bless you.