“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” – Luke 1:38
I am a long-time teacher of Religious Studies. After almost 30 years in the classroom, I have taught, not always well, just about everything a high school Religious Studies curriculum offers. However, I am far from a scripture scholar. Nonetheless, my understanding is that Mary was approximately 14 years old when the angel appeared to her and told her God’s plan. What 14-year-old kid could ever be ready for that? Mary is confused for a moment, but then, utters the famous words of the Angelus, “may it be done to me according to your word.” Somehow, she was ready enough.
It was the morning of July 23, 2019, and it was raining like crazy as I was driving my son to a basketball clinic. We had to get to a school in Boston amid heavy traffic. We were late and I was stressed. My older brother called, I picked up and told him the situation and asked if I could call him back in a few minutes. After I dropped my son off, I called my brother who informed me our mom had died earlier that morning. My mom’s health had not been great for years, but this was still unexpected. She was the strongest person I had ever known, and she had been taking care of my 89-year-old dad who suffered from dementia. I was crushed, and I wasn’t ready to say goodbye – at least I didn’t think I was.
I hopped on a plane, wrote an obituary for my mom, worked with my siblings to plan a funeral, stayed with my other brother and took care of my dad. I worked with my brothers and sister to get dad moved into a memory care facility, and then, a couple weeks later, I headed back home. I’ll never forget those two weeks after my mom’s death. They were painful, awful, and still wonderful. With the support of my siblings, my wife, my kids, and my friends, somehow, I was ready enough for all of it.
As we look at our world today, it is perfectly understandable to want to say that it is all too much.
We are in the grip of a pandemic, we witness almost daily effects from the injustices of systemic racism, and the tragedies of climate change, and here in the U.S., it seems like oftentimes people can’t even talk to each other about these pressing issues. What can we do to create a more just world?
Yet, I believe we are ready. We have the Gospel. We have the insights and legacies of Xaverian Brothers who have been working for justice for years and years. We have a community of believers who will support and edify us if we just keep moving. We need to do the work during this Advent season and beyond of staying close to a God who reaches out to a 14-year-old girl to bring our Savior into the world. Our hope lies in that kind of power. God continues to tell us that we are more ready than we think we are. We who have been given the Gospel, and the power of a Xaverian community do not have luxury to give up.
When in your life have you been more ready than you thought? Where is God calling you to follow the example of Mary and “have it done to me, according to God’s word?”
Loving God, Please bless us with the faith and the courage to know of Your constant love for us. Secure in that love, grant us the insight and strength to know that we are ready to work to build Your kingdom.
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