Mary said “yes” when Gabriel approached her with the invitation to become the mother of Jesus. It was the same refrain we hear today in the book of Hebrews: “Behold, I come to do your will.” This is the mantra recited by all those who commit their will to God’s plan of salvation. Jesus said it as did Mary, John the Baptist, the Twelve and all the saints down through the ages. To celebrate Christmas well, we too must begin each day with the desire to do God’s will.
Today’s Gospel tells of the second joyful mystery. Mary made a dangerous cross-country trip to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Two pregnant women rejoice in coming together to share the gift of grace from God; two infants in the womb, infants destined to give their lives in total sacrifice, await the unfolding of salvation. As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we are invited to carry the Lord who dwells within us to others, be it at home, at work or wherever our travels may carry us. We are Christ-bearers and through us Christ becomes present to our world.
The Nativity of the Lord changed human history, God-become-man. God breaks into history to assume our human condition and identify with our plight. For those without faith, this is a great scandal. For those with faith, this joyful mystery provides meaning to all of history. To think that this child is the ruler and Lord of creation, indeed the very peace of humankind. The mind is too finite to comprehend this wonder; the heart too narrow to appreciate the humility of our God. All we can do is adore, gaze with love at the infant King of the world.
But this is only part of the story. Christmas is but one chapter in an epic of immense proportions. Christmas is a moment to nurture our faith and love in a God who withholds nothing from us.
The church offers this beautiful prayer in helping to celebrate our Christian story: “Father, all-powerful God, your eternal word took flesh on our earth when the Virgin Mary placed her life at the service of your plan. Lift our minds in watchful hope to hear the voice which announces his glory and open our minds to receive the Spirit, who prepares us for his coming. We ask this through Christ our Lord.”
Questions for reflection
1. How would you summarize the Christian story in a paragraph or two?
2. How does the Nativity mystery relate to the other four joyful mysteries?
3. What role do you play in the Christian story of our day?
Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.