Homily December 21, 2014 The 4th Sunday of Advent
Today’s gospel is the story of the Annunciation by Gabriel to Mary. But today I would like to talk of two Annunciations, Mary’s and the one to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. What we see are two different responses to a messenger of God. Zechariah was the skeptic and supposedly the realist who said his wife was old and barren well beyond the age of child-bearing. For him it was open and shut, impossible. On the other hand Mary had an open heart and mind. She was curious as to how it could happen. She could accept that God could do it, even though much of her wonderment and curiosity went unanswered. She basically said what in our parlance would be “whatever” and went on to face the eventualities that would occur. Zechariah was struck dumb as a reminder of his inability to speak to God and probably for his demeanor in the holy of holies where he was at the time.
Much throughout history has been made of Mary being a virgin. Yet when all being said and done, it was not an issue of sexuality, but ultimately a question of fatherhood of Jesus the Savior. Jesus was fully human, a man like any other, yet he was conceived and fathered by God himself who chose a young virgin, untouched and faithful and open to God. She was the first to fully contain the very body and blood of Jesus Christ. She was new and fresh and young and ready. Her consent and God’s action showed Christ’s uniqueness and humanity as well as his divine nature. His conception was to be fully human, yet it was an act of God, not of man. Even we, when we begin something new, prepare and clean and start afresh whatever we do. Sexuality was not really a question to God. Our vision of it is often shaded by a sense that something is shameful or wrong about it. Humanity so often has taken and twisted what is truly God’s gift to the expression of human love. How could this be since God gave us nothing bad, only we by our own choice can make it bad. Human love is founded in God’s love and is a good thing unless we somehow abuse or twist it ourselves.
Like Mary today we should have a simple faith and open heart ready to hear God’s call. Christ comes to us probably not as Gabriel came to Mary, but through the Spirit we have received, he is in us and calls us and guides us. Just as Mary received Jesus, so can we receive Jesus not only as we celebrate Christmas, but he comes to us in each Eucharist we celebrate. We too can receive him often and make him part of our body and our blood in the Eucharist we receive. Let us not forget He with us now. He is present to show us the way.