Homily – December 18th, 2011
THY WORD BE DONE —-LUKE 1:38
December 18, 2011
We read accounts of great moments in the story of humans. Genesis narrates in story when God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2). Again Genesis tells of the first human pair. “God created man in his image, in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them, saying: ‘Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion” …over all things (Genesis 1:27-28).
In the history of this land, great moments have occurred. Columbus passed from the Canary Islands sailing for thirty-three days, and then, at an instant, his lookout sighted an island in the Bahaman Islands. Doesn’t that moment touch us as among the world’s great instants?
And we might think of the moment of signing the Declaration of Independence: “When, in the course or human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation….And for the support of this declaration, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” At such instants, decisive events begin rolling through our human history.
When the angel Gabriel came from God to Nazareth in Galilee, two thousand years ago, he hailed Mary, “The Lord is with you. You have found favor with God. 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…and of his kingdom there will be no end”(Luke 1:26-34). At this moment, human ages waited for the decisive instant.
And that world-wonder expression issued from Mary, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
Mary embraces that which the angel has announced. Mary chooses to accomplish, to fulfill the Lord’s expressed will. Mary sets aside the common will of man, and Mary chooses the will of God. She wills the great prayer, “Thy will be done.” We hear the Church applying to Mary the words of Isaiah,
The Lord called me from birth,
From my mother’s womb he gave me my name.
He made of me a sharp-edged sword
And concealed me in the shadow of his arm.
He made me a polished arrow,
In his quiver he hid me.
You are my servant, he said to me,
Israel, through whom I show my glory. (Isaiah 49:1-3).
Mary’s ready embrace of the Lord’s choice at this central moment might have taken some other trail. Zechariah, for instance, hesitated.
Recall that some verses earlier in Luke’s gospel, the husband of Elizabeth, Zechariah, was serving as a priest in the Jerusalem temple. Appearing to this Jerusalem priest, the angel told him that his wife Elizabeth, although past the age of having children, nonetheless, would soon bear a child. Zechariah would not accept such annunciation, and the angel got tough with him. “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you the good news. But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur”(Luke 1: 19-20). From that instant, Zechariah could not speak; he could utter nothing.
In contrast to Zechariah, Mary is not a priest and she holds no official position. While Zechariah is in the temple, Mary is in her house. Mary is among the most powerless people in her society: she is young in a world that values age; female in a world ruled by men; poor in a stratified economy. She has neither husband nor child to validate her existence. Yet she has “found favor with God” and is “highly gifted.” In this instance, God’s will and choice run opposite what we humans expect.
Mary does what Zechariah does not do. She desires that God’s will be done in her own life. Mary embraces the will of the Lord. “May it be done to me according to your word.”
Years later when the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray, He responded by teaching the Lord ’s Prayer. “…your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”(Mt. 6:10). The prayer suggests a perfect harmony between the way in which events in heaven and earth occur. In essence, Mary has embraced God’s way in her acceptance of the Lord’s plan: “Be it done unto me according to your word.”
Jesus in the Garden of Olives prays. “Jesus advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed that if it were possible the hour might pass by him; he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will”(Mark 14:35-36). What Jesus feels in His final night on earth as His suffering approaches, His blessed mother has expressed and lived all these years. “May it be done to me according to your word.”
Holiness derives to you and me by our contact with the divine. God is holiness by His nature. Through our prayer, by our experiencing the sacraments, by our living righteously, we embrace God’s will and shape our lives and bring about great instants in our lives; we are uttering Mary’s embrace: “May it be done to me according to your word.” Amen!!!