The Christmas season is one of the most, if not the most anticipated of the Philippines’ annual events. It is not only the longest; it is also the most colorful. We cherish it with child-like glee and we enjoy its colors and themes. Hopefully, the meaning isn’t lost in the attractions and celebrations. While we like its once-a-year celebration, how about a year-long celebration of its meaning and essence?
While we are focusing our reflections on the coming of the Lord this Christmas, wouldn’t it also be better if we look at the Gospel as a continuing work, as an “endless” coming of the Lord, not just during the Christmas season, but even on an ordinary day in any season and time?
The real measure of the Gospel’s impact on our lives is its transformative nature, its contribution to the on-going process of our conversion. Creating time to reflect on the daily Scripture readings will give us the chance to listen to God’s messages and learn from His examples. It will make us know Him better, and thus build and deepen intimacy. While we are excited to welcome the Divine Child during the Christmas season, we should also welcome the Living Word every single day of the year for Christmas to be really meaningful and relevant.
This Sunday’s Gospel talks about Mary’s acceptance to God’s call. It wasn’t easy for the young virgin to accept this invitation. She was greatly troubled; she must be so anxious. Yet, despite the confusion, she placed her trust in God and said “Yes”. Mary walked this pilgrimage in a deep, obedient and intimate relationship with God. He was with her long before she even responded to His invitation. God chose Mary from among the many women in history, but most importantly, even before Mary chose God. This order is very important if we want to grasp the deeper meaning of living the spiritual life. Sometimes we think that it is us who brought God into our lives. We are misled into thinking that we do the initiating and somehow control the relationship. Yet, Jesus clarified this order of invitation when He told His apostles, “You did not choose me, I chose you”(Jn. 15:16).
Mary — just like the many saints and martyrs throughout the ages — has understood that it is the Lord who reaches out to us in His love. This should be enough assurance that our God is so overflowing with love, who calls us to obedience and a life of faith. He has provided us with all the insights that can help us decide clearly. The Scriptures are there for us to meditate on the infinite bounds of God’s love and mercy. It’s up to us to respond with a clear “Yes”, just like what Mary said to the Angel. This shouldn’t be so hard for us to do, with the gift of rational thinking He has provided us.
Clearly then, it is the Lord who offers His grace. We are the recipients of that grace, and it fills us according to the capacity that He has built within us. That grace moves us to respond to the Lord, to say YES, in word and deed.
This Christmas and in any other ordinary season, may our life’s song be like Mary’s,
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”