As we reflect on the scripture readings today, from our celebration, we hear about a Creator and a God who is madly in love with His people, with His creation. He is seeking us out, like a lover would seek out and pursue the desire of his heart.
I don’t know how often you think about the story of God’s saving action as a love story, but it is. And the scriptures today paint a pretty straightforward picture for us of this idea. In Paul’s letter to the Romans we hear about a God who has made known to the world “the mystery” (the good news of Jesus, God made man) through the prophets. And we further see this in action as we hear in the prophet Samuel about God’s promise to David of his fidelity and faithfulness, that he will be established forever. As David worries about building God a house, and making plans for this, God responds in telling David not to worry and that He has a plan that has been unfolding already, quite obviously, in David’s life. These are the words of a lover to his beloved, wooing him, “I will stay true to you.” He has committed to his people.
And I find it so interesting and amazing how God goes about things, as we hear in the Gospel reading about God sending his messenger to Mary, inviting her to be the mother of God-made-man. To set the picture, God is planning this great rescue of mankind; to heal brokenness and sin, the division caused by the original fall of Adam and Eve. He has sent His prophets, ahead of this, proclaiming His plan and His continued desire for His people, as we see throughout the Old Testament, and even though they continued to turn away He never stopped pursuing.
I am intrigued especially by how God goes about this rescue. Is not going to come through force or power but, in a sense, with vulnerability. He allowed and chose His saving power to hinge on the decision of this young girl, in the town of Nazareth. Really, Mary here is representing all of humanity as her response charts the course for God’s love made manifest to us in human flesh. So it is that Mary sees God’s plan, maybe doesn’t fully understand it as she says, “How can this be?” But we can also see that she is already close to God, as the Angel creates her, “Hail, full of grace.” And so out of that relationship with God trusts in His plan, not knowing the details, but knowing and trusting God’s faithfulness. So it is, that Mary’s decision, her ‘yes’, makes way for the healing of the original fall of Adam and Eve. Mary reverses Eve’s ‘no’ and makes way for Christ’s undoing of Adams fall.
I see one thing in particular that is important for us to remember here, as we enter into this last week, in preparation for Christ’s birth: Mary’s trust in God’s faithfulness, her ‘yes’. Mary made the initial ‘yes’, but it didn’t stop there. As I was reflecting on this I thought about the Lotto ‘Get Set For Life’ advertisement, their slogan being “So you can afford to relax!” And I was thinking about the influence of our society of instant gratification and instant results, that we want control and plan our future so as to alleviate as many surprises as we can. But our response to God should be nothing like this. He’s not asking for a one-time investment. It’s not like, “OK God, I said yes now you do the rest and I’m going to relax”. It is quite fitting as we enter into these last few days of Advent that we see the example of Mary’s ‘yes’, that we see it as a beginning. Just take a look at what happens next; Mary and Joseph travel while she’s pregnant to Bethlehem, she gives birth in a stable because there was no room at the inn. No sooner after Jesus’s is born they are forced to flee to Egypt, as fugitives. As Jesus grows up, in one instance, he gets lost when they travel to Jerusalem. Mary and Joseph, having left town, realize that Jesus is not with them and then take three days to find him. Jesus’ ministry, later, leads him to carry the cross to his own crucifixion as Mary looks on, and then finally burying her own son. This is only a quick snapshot of where Mary’s ‘yes’ led her. But it was Mary’s trust in God’s faithfulness, that there was a bigger picture, that brought her hope.
Our ‘yes’ may not seem like it would be as extreme as Mary’s, but it is truly that decision, that choice, to open our lives to our creator, our lover, which opens us to His promise that he will not abandon us and to His perfect love for us. He promises us and assures us, as he did with King David, “Your throne will be established forever.” Our creator is a God of power, yet he chooses to make himself manifest to us, to be vulnerable and to be one with us. This opens us to the possibility of intimacy with God. It is truly a beautiful and powerful story and we are a part of it.
I would encourage you, as we enter these last few days of Advent, to take this opportunity to walk with God, to be with Him in the silence, to be real with Him, to give Him your ‘yes’ and ask Him to draw you closer to Himself.
We are reminded today of God’s great love for us, as He offers himself to us as a lover to his bride, in the sacrament of the Eucharist. May we come to open our hearts and our lives to Him, as He seeks to be a part of our lives and as He invites us to be a part of His story.
Scripture references & reflections taken from: