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God’s Quiet Revolution
Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, 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 his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “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 called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Opening Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are here with me now. May this prayer increase my faith and my love. Through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, let me draw ever closer to you, my God.
- A Quiet Revolution: God often starts his greatest works in secret and in small ways. To establish the People of Israel, he simply called Abram to leave his home, yet his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky (cf. Genesis 15:5). To bring Israel out of Egypt, he spoke to Moses from the burning bush (cf. Exodus 3:5). The miraculous wonders in Egypt followed. Now, what was perhaps the greatest moment in all of human history, God becoming man, was initially communicated to only one person, Mary. If we could somehow visualize the spiritual impact of the Incarnation, it would be like a burst of light emanating from the Blessed Mother and enveloping the whole earth. Later, angels would praise the Emmanuel, demons would fear him, and men would both vilify and follow him. For now, however, at the Annunciation, all remained quiet, unnoticed.
- God’s Humility: We can take God’s respect of human liberty for granted and, at times, even complain about it: “Why does he let people do such things?” It is an act of humility of staggering proportion for the Creator to care about, much less respect, the free choices of his creatures. As he reminded an impertinent Job, “Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:4). What does God owe us? Nevertheless, he listens attentively to us, and solicits a free response to his invitations. Now he approaches a young girl to ask her to be the mother of his Son. The humility of God the Son becoming man was preceded by the humility of God the Father requesting a favor from his creature, Mary.
- Mary’s Humble Response: In response to God’s invitation, man may either harden his heart, as did many of the Pharisees, or humbly obey, as Mary did. However, indifference to a clear call from God is not possible. A person must choose. That choice sets us on a path either with or against God (cf. Matthew 12:30). As the example of the rich young man shows us, an enthusiastic inquiry and a respectful demeanor does not change the essence of a refusal to do God’s will (Mark 10:22). Thankfully, in this life God gives us more than one chance. However, what is a conversion if not changing your “no” to a “yes”? Here, Mary in all simplicity and humility responds with a “yes.” Her “yes” remains constant throughout her life. How pleasing to God her unconditional surrender must have been.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to be both perceptive and docile, like Mary, so that I may respond like her with loving obedience to your will. May your grace work the revolution in and through me that you have planned. I thank you for the honor of being able to collaborate with such an awesome God and Savior.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will try to notice, appreciate, and collaborate with your grace in a small way.
For Further Reflection: “Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” Catholic Answers, https://www.catholic.com/encyclopedia/annunciation-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary.
Fr. John Bullock, LC, works with Regnum Christi in Cincinnati, Ohio.