Last weekend, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that because of the widespread orders across the country of people being confined to their homes that Hallmark Channel went wall to wall Christmas movies for the weekend. We may roll our eyes at the phenomenon – but it makes sense – Who doesn’t love Christmas? Yeah obviously the meaning has been commercialized in such wild ways – but the heart of Christmas isn’t Hallmark, it’s that God comes to us. That’s what’s in the DNA of the holiday even on the most minimal of levels where we “give gifts.” God’s coming among us, as one of us – the Father sending the Son through the Holy Spirit to the Virgin Mary was his way of “sending his very best.” So in a time of global uncertainty, when people are isolated, home and afraid, it’s not shocking that Hallmark wanted people to focus on Christmas.
We as a Church love it so much that today being March 25th we pause on lent for the day and mark that we’re exactly 9 months from Christmas. Unlike Hallmark channel using this as an excuse to start airing Christmas movies again, the Church has a little more depth to our reasoning. We celebrate the Annunciation of the Lord. How the angel of Gabriel was sent by God to the Blessed Virgin Mary and invited her into this story of salvation – God becoming man in Jesus Christ.
The Gospel for today has us focus on how all of this hinges on this dramatic encounter. God humbles Himself not only in wanting to become one of us, but waits for one of us, waits for Mary’s saying Yes to the Lord. In Mary saying Yes to the Lord – God breaks through. God breaks through into humanity in a dramatically new, unprecedented way. God breaks through the brokenness and sinfulness of the world. God breaks through and creates the way out for all humanity by being the truth, the life in Jesus. God breaks through to give people good news of great joy – the prophecy of Isaiah that we heard in the first reading is fulfilled the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us!” God breaks through and remains with us.
We’re not reading this Gospel as a history lesson or a Christmas story to comfort us in times of uncertainty. Jesus remaining among us in the word and the Eucharist, the Holy Spirit being poured out on us in our Baptisms and confirmations – brings this Gospel to life for us in this being proclaimed here and now. That’s why we took on the psalmists words as our own in saying “Here I am Lord; I come to do your will.” Mary our Mother, our model of being a disciple of Jesus reminds us of the important roles each of us has to play right here and right now. Namely that when we are attentive to the Word of God, receptive and obedient to His will – it not only has an impact on us individually – it continues God’s being able to break through to our world, our day, our time… Jesus is made real and present outside of this sacred gathering and into a world where people are still seeking, still desiring, still in need of His Healing; His Mercy; His Redemption. May our Blessed Mother continue to pray and intercede for us that we will be as open, receptive and obedient to His will as she was.