I remember the time when a colleague invited me to join the Catholic Community he and his wife belonged to. I always said “I’m busy”, besides, I hardly had enough time then (and actually even now) to spend on organizations after spending a lot of time in those and other extra-curricular activities almost my entire student life. I thought that since I’ve served the Lord starting young as an acolyte in my Parish, there is no longer a need to serve further. I know it’ll demand time and energy aside from my own resources. I avoided the conversation and tried to keep off him occasionally. Then the day came when I felt a strong urge to try it. I thought that maybe the Lord wants me to serve again. So I finally said “Yes”. But it has never been that easy. My work requires lots of travel and at times I get assignments away from home. Not to mention that God has gifted our family with a special child who needs more attention than boys and men his age. The difficulties are always there, but all the more I feel deeply grateful for the special graces that serving the Lord has blessed my family with.
God calls many times those who serve and love Him. Not only once, not twice, but many times over. The challenge though is in knowing that the Lord is calling. You may find it difficult to discern but once you’ve started spending time with God in prayer, in reaching out to Him, He’ll definitely embrace you like a long-lost child. He is always there, patiently waiting for us to go and reunite with Him. But don’t set it aside, instead live on it, and nurture it. Practice it. To put it more clearly, practice makes perfect. Not only in sports, but in other matters of life, especially in our spiritual life. Moreover, it is said that it’s not how we start, but how we finish it. We have to pray unceasingly in order to keep the gift of grace that’s given by the Lord. Yet it isn’t really about our faithfulness; it’s still about God’s faithfulness which is forever.
Fr. Armand warned that it isn’t an easy life; God will give us the opportunity to “practice” it. He will allow trials to come in order to “practice” and prepare us for more. It’ll not be only for our own good, but this will be for others who would need our help later on. Allowing us the grace to overcome trials will toughen us, strengthen us, and mold us into better Christians. And God would be able to use us mightily for spreading His goodness and grace to others.
The announcement by the angel to Mary is the one revelation that all the prophets of old have talked about. It is the mystery kept secret since before the foundation of the world, as St. Paul says in today’s Epistles (Rom. 16: 25-27). Imagine Mary’s surprise when the angel told her that she has found favor with God, and that she will conceive and bear a son. Moreover, “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.”
Mary was confused and troubled and asked 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.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk. 1: 38)
Yet, Mary’s and the baby’s life were not a “walk in the park” as they endured trials, suffering and persecution. Not to mention the humiliation she may have undergone while she was still carrying Baby Jesus in her womb! In the Annunciation, Jesus Christ the Savior has been made known and He came without requiring that He be born in a majestic palace made of cedar, but came in a lowly manger.
Just like Mary, we are called to behold at all that the Lord has done throughout the ages for our salvation. Life will not be an easy journey, there will be trials, there will be lots of “practice” not only for our own good, but for the people around our lives. We must continuously respond to this call with obedient humility – that regardless of the difficulties, His will shall be done, according to His word.
As we celebrate Christmas, let us spend some time before the Baby Jesus in silence and in humility, to be grateful, and to marvel at what the Lord has done for us all.
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk. 1: 38)