Mary said to Gabriel, “How can this be?”
Have you ever felt jealous when your best friend or sibling gets complemented? Today’s feast and solemnity may be likened to someone coming up to your best friend or sibling and saying to them and not to you, “You have the most beautiful eyes." "Your hair is so shiny." "Your skin is so clear." "You have a wonderful smile." "You radiate peace." "Your joy is so attractive." "You are so witty." "You are such a hard worker." "You always give your best." "You are so smart." "You are so responsible." "You are so kind and caring." "You are so holy!" "You are simply amazing!"
Of course the temptation is to be jealous. After all, you might be thinking that the only reason why they are so much better than you is because it’s all in their DNA! Or that they were born that way! But I think it is perfectly fine to complement someone. In fact, it would be sad not to give recognition for the beauty or talent that God has freely given to the world.
Mary is loved, much more loved than I. Mary has been loved for well over a thousand years! Yes, God had a big role for her, a much bigger role than for me. He saved her from the moment of her conception. You can say that it all began in her "physical" and "spiritual" DNA; that from the very beginning she had a propensity for “positiveness” – for faith, hope and love. But we cannot forget that surroundings, our environment, - hostile or friendly - can greatly influence who we are.
Have you experienced betrayal? Has it left a scar? Has it left hardness in your heart? Did you once upon a time believe (as the song goes) that love could pay the rent? I remember growing up watching Sony and Cher and being shocked that they got a divorce? I really believed they had it all, even a love that could pay the rent!
Where are you? Have you experienced heartbreak, mental breakdowns and/or financial collapse? If so, what has it done to you? Has it scarred you for life? Have you lost your faith, your hope and your ability to love because of horrible things that may have happened to you?
Mary is the model of holiness not because she was born without sin but of what she did with that fact. It would be foolish for us to forget that she too experienced, throughout her life, the sting of poverty. Although she was the handmaid of the Lord, she was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. She experienced all forms of hardship. Economic poverty forced the young couple to give birth in a manger. Mary may have been strong spiritually, but physically she was a young girl. For months she lived in hiding, fleeing from the wrath of Herod. Mary did not possess a single ounce of supernatural power, even though she carried the super power of the world. She experienced the loss of family members just as much as we do and maybe even more! Mary was a widow at a very young age, too young. And of course, she was an eye-witness to her son’s torture, scorn and execution. Mary experienced the horrific loss of a child in a way that many of us will never (thank God!) experience. But I know of a few that have!
How did she do it? Was it all in her DNA? No. It was all in her prayer life! Mary could have said, “Enough! I am done! Be gone from me, Lord!” but she didn’t. We can't either. She knew and kept reminding herself over and over again that she had been conceived by the grace of God and she would not be deceived by the sins of the devil!
We don’t have to collapse because the world is collapsing around us. We can be like Mary and stand tall through Him that gives us strength!
Recently, a young soul wrote to me, “Father, can you help me? I just woke up a while ago because my parent’s didn’t wake me up to go to 10:00 am or noon Mass. That makes me so mad because I hate going to the other Masses. On top of that I only had some free time this morning and two hours in the afternoon. I was going to go use those two hours for something else. I know I should go to Mass especially since we didn’t go last week because we were traveling. If I do go to Church though I’m going to be mad and I shouldn’t go to Mass mad so I’m not sure what to do?”
I replied, “Go to Mass. Always go to Mass even if it is raining in your heart or there is a tornado in your soul or if there is coldness in your thoughts! The Lord loves to light a fire where there is none. I’m sure that will get you radiating once again.”
T’is the season to be holy! Take care of your faith, support it, nourish it and supplement it with virtue, morals, principles and prayer. Remember who conceived you. Remember who constantly deceives you!
Mary overcame all things in her life not because she was superwoman but because she was super strong in her hope. One day…one day…I shall see you face to face and then we shall laugh together!
The secret to life is to increase your spiritual life. This must increase as I decrease.