In humanity we love, but that doesn’t ensure us that the very people we love will love us back. Many people suffer in sorrow obsessed with love not reciprocated. We all have been there at one time in our lives, and we all know how painful it can be. Now think of God and how He loves us as though we were the only ones and waits in anticipation for us to respond, our response is governed by our free will. How often have we turned away from God because we sit in shame or guilt from our sins? Or we are too preoccupied with the blessings that He has given us to be thankful to Him? Or we are consumed with our daily struggles and grief and blame Him for them and at times even angry at Him for them? And still none of these reasons prevents God from loving us any less, His love for us is beyond our comprehension.There is not a single thing that you can do that would prevent God from loving you. NOTHING. Advent is the season that should give us a pause in our lives to dwell on this truth. Consider this, His plan to bring us a Savior to open the gates of heaven so we can be with Him for eternity was hinged on the faith and response of one woman; Mary.
The Annunciation in my opinion was a vulnerable action of courage on God’s part. I know most of us associate vulnerability with weakness, but that is a misconception I hope I can change.
Dr. Brene` Brown says, “the word I use to describe people who can live from a place of vulnerability is wholehearted, courage, and strength.” Being wholehearted is a practice-one that we can choose to cultivate through empathy, gratitude, and awareness of our vulnerability armor.
It is hard to fathom a God that can make Himself vulnerable, but that is when we look at vulnerability as a weakness instead of a strength. God made Himself courageously vulnerable when He gave us the gift of free will?
Mary was born without the original sin of Adam and Eve something we do not share with her, but she was completely human. She like us has the gift of free will and could have said NO to God. How many of us have said no to God at different times in our lives? Thankfully, Mary courageously said, “YES.” By doing so, she opened herself to receive the gift of God’s life breathed into her by the messenger Gabriel.
Mary said yes, knowing it would place her in a vulnerable position. It would put her life in jeopardy from those wanting to stone her to death for thinking she broke Judaic law having sexual relations with someone other than her betrothed. Her “yes” most likely destroyed her family’s reputation in the community as well as her own, casting shame upon them. Her “yes” forced Joseph’s status as an upright citizen and loyal worker in the community to be one of ridicule and mockery losing financial stability. Let’s face it her “yes” brought with it hardships, danger, and forced her loved ones to be outcasts on the margins in an impoverished society. It takes a lot of strength to be able to say yes when everything reasonable is telling you to say no, except love. Amy Grant gives us a window into Mary’s yes in her song Breath of Heaven.
Do you wonder as you watch my face
If a wiser one should have had my place
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan
Help me be strong
Help me be
God gives us a similar invitation as Mary to say “yes” to birthing “Christ” and His love into the world. He does this when He invites us to consider “yes” to the priesthood, religious, or lay vocation. To help the needy, weak, and the vulnerable in our communities, families, and throughout the world. We as baptized Christians are co-responsible for the life of the Church. I know it is hard to understand that we are co-responsible with the clergy and religious, but we are. In addition to single or married lay vocation, there are also, vocations available to us such as lay orders like the Secular Franciscans, Carmelites, Dominicans, etc., called to be a visible sign in the Church.I invite you to research and discern if you have one. I have provided info at the end of this blog.
I look forward to Advent as an opportunity to cleanse myself and renew my faith in love. To acknowledge God’s love for me and to , my heart to receive more of it so that I can spill that love on those I encounter. As we tell children that they better be good for goodness sake for Santa to visit them and give them gifts. We Christians should also be good for goodness sake for the baby Jesus to give us the gift of Himself dwelling in our prepared hearts. I invite you this first week of Advent to meditate on the Annunciation of Mary and ask yourself how soft is your heart to nestle the baby Jesus? And can your love for Him last beyond the Christmas season?