The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.
Spiritual Lights shared among us:
- Our Lady so glorifies the Holy Trinity. She trusts God her Father that the Holy Spirit (her spouse) will come and actually bring to flesh the word, His son, and hers. She believes this will materialize. She deeply experiences the Trinity in the most unique way of any human because of her humility. From the world’s point of view she is not a particularly “accomplished” young woman, but this simplicity is a conduit for the beautiful interior space in her that God uses as a channel to come into the world.
- This is the passage from which our “Hail Mary” prayer is based in scripture. The word that particularly sticks out is “ponder”. It is through this interior silence and wonder that Mary deeply reflects. We must increase our time in silence to ponder the ways God is moving in our lives through the Holy Spirit, which yields a prudence and peace that often comes without acting too quickly.
- Mary’s fiat–her YES–is given quickly and although she didn’t understand how this was to be, she only asked what she needed to know. She didn’t over-analyze or question God’s will. What is my daily “yes” look like? How do I say “yes” to the faces and souls God puts before me each day, especially in my own family? It is in these daily “baby fiats” (K said “little fiats” and Lala said “ooooh! Baby fiats!”) that we imitate the grace of Mary’s yes to God. In mass this week, the readings discuss the genealogy of Jesus. Over times many of these generations had BIG mistakes in them, but God brings forth salvation through them anyway. We must trust that God will always bring about the good, and just say yes to him even when we don’t understand.
- Our Lady’s yes may have been helped by the graces she received at her Immaculate Conception, but cultivated through her obedience and honor of God. My response may be more like “Ask someone else, Lord, not me. I am busy,” or “Not now, Lord, later.” She instantly says yes and the angel departs immediately after that, not before. His work is completed in her yes and obedience. How can I give God my “yes” more often?
- Our time on the earth is short but God’s kingdom is “without end.” Mary was human and “greatly troubled” but did what was asked of her anyway and trusted the Lord. What am I struggling to control? My struggle to control things is directly related to the level of anxiety I experience. We must let God be God and imitate Our Lady in her simplicity, humility and surrender.
PONDER: “To Consider, especially quietly in deep reflection“…
PONDER was our Encounter with Christ word of the week when we met via zoom yesterday. We don’t complain–but agree–that meeting virtually has been a life line for our team this year. Miss M (we will call her) adorably picks up her charger to her iPad at the end of our time together and says “You see this ladies? This is my spiritual IV!” and pretends to plug it into her arm. Miss M has had many IV’s over the last year for other serious reasons, but her joyful reflection in our prayer time together has only exponentially deepened. Since she moved back home to the other side of the country, we had been zooming with Miss M a while before the pandemic hit, so not only were we “Covid-Ready” but we were even able to “go with her” to a hospital visit in Texas when she needed someone with her the most, and was denied this due to the pandemic. Before her appointment, we jumped on zoom together and extended hands, praying over her through the airways. We all surrendered her to the doctors, knowing full well God had her in His hands.
She texted us shortly after our meeting this week, when she spent part of her afternoon completing the spiritual part of our commitment to one another, which was to pray with the infant Jesus for ten minutes each day. Her text came shortly after, explaining that the infant she had been holding from her nativity scene was in the same physical position as Jesus on the crucifix in the short film, “The Veil Removed.” We agreed to watch both this and “Christmas with the Chosen” as recommended by “Doc Dred” (another member moniker from our team.) We decided that how we will act this week, according to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, is to watch both of these and choose which one we felt compelled to share. Fun fact: the last part of the Chosen video–in which singer Chris Tomlin sings “EMMANUEL”–was filmed in the older historic part of our parish church!
To illustrate the way we should “ponder” the infant Jesus, we considered one story of St John Vianney, the Cure of Ars, which–vaguely related–is about a farm worker who comes into the church at the end of every day covered in dirt from his day of work, quietly kneeling in the back of the church in prayer. One day St John Vianney approaches the man curiously and asks him, “What does He say to you?” and the working man replies, “Nothing. He gazes at me and I gaze at him.” We decided that this is how we will pray this week, to do the same with the infant Jesus as we prepare our hearts for Christmas.
Miss M couldn’t wait to get started. As she held her baby Jesus figuring from her nativity and watched “The Veil Removed,” she reflected:
I never realized Jesus came into the world in the same way he exited the world! Tiny, innocent, Infant Jesus in his all-embracing glory and majesty, in the same clothing and body posture of the crucified Jesus in his agony. There is something so poetically beautiful here. I will continue to PONDER!” –MissM