I can think of no better Christmas message than what follows.
We all know the beautiful words that were spoken to Mary by the angel of the Lord. They are the words of the Annunciation: “Greetings, favoured one, The Lord is with you… Do not be afraid, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus…” Mary said to the angel: “How can this be…?” The angel said to her: “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 holy; he will be called Son of God…. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Lk 1,26…38
On this last Sunday of Advent, I submit to you a bold proposition: we are to read these words with the notion that they are addressed to each one of us as well. These words were addressed to Mary as the “First Disciple of Jesus”. What is relevant to the first disciple has to be relevant, in some way, to all disciples. In addition, are we not all Christ-bearers? Is it not, among other things to bear Christ to the world that we are Christian?
Allow me then, to re-word the angel’s message to Mary slightly, so that it fits our reality. Just remember that these words are being addressed to each one of you: Greetings, favoured one. The Lord really is with you. Do not be afraid, for you have indeed found favour with God. The proof is, you are Christian. And now you will conceive, and something of the Lord Jesus will be borne in you. Is this not to be expected? Are you not taken together “Christ’s body and individually parts of it”? 1 Co 12,27 I’m sure you’re wondering like Mary, “How can this be?” The answer to your question is the one given to Mary: “The Holy Sprit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore what is born of you, in you, will be holy. You will be called child of God, in the strict sense in which Jesus is called child of God. For nothing is impossible for God.
Now for all of this to happen, we need to enter into Mary’s receptiveness to the work of the Holy Spirit, which itself is grace, a gift of the Holy Spirit. So let us all ask the Holy Spirit to inspire in us an absolutely sincere utterance of Mary’s words, let us ask the Holy Spirit the grace to make these words our very own: I am the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word. Only this graced disposition stands between us and the work of the Spirit in us.
And so I end with this prayer: may we dare to believe in this Christmas season that these words addressed to Mary are also addressed to us. By the grace of God, may we be, in our world, the Christ-bearers that God intended us to be from all eternity. May we be so many instances in our world and for our world, of Emmanuel, God-with-us.
A blessed Christmas season to you all,