The angel said to Mary: "nothing is impossible for God." As I read the Gospel in preparation for today's homily, this phrase jumped out at me. Do I really believe that nothing is impossible for God? It's hard for me to wrap my mind around this statement. I have a tendency to make God much smaller than he is. I tend to view him as I would a human, someone who isn't God.
Our God is a God of miracles. In the bible, miracles are occurring over and over again. God parts the Red Sea. An angel tells Joseph to flee Bethlehem before Jesus is killed. Jesus heals many people, raises Lazarus from the dead and feeds five thousand. Peter escapes from prison several times. And the list goes on and on.
God is far more than we can grasp. He is the creator of the universe. He knows what we will do in the future and how our actions will impact this future. He knows what is best for us, and he loves us more than we can even imagine.
Today's Cincinnati Enquirer has a headline on the first page, "Millennia flock to the priesthood". It describes the dramatic increase in the number of seminarians from 40 in 2011 to 82 today. In a generation which is becoming less religious overall, these men are choosing to give themselves in service to the Lord. Like our parochial vicar, Father Wood, they are on fire with the Lord.
Truly, nothing is impossible for God. If we open our eyes in faith and look for miracles, we will see them all around us. We may attempt to attribute these miracles to coincidences but in reality they are God's work. Some of us may see small miracles and praise the Lord. Others may not have enough faith to see them.
Mary has great faith. She says "Let it be done to me according to your word." She was a young teenager who was just told that she would become pregnant with the Son of God through the Holy Spirit. Although she was married to Joseph, she wasn't yet living with him as was the custom at that time. So, once her husband, her parents, and her friends found out that she was pregnant, her life would be turned upside down. For example, Joseph, before he was visited by an angel, had decided that he would divorce her quietly. And yet, in faith, Mary accepted God's will to become the mother of Jesus.
The greatest miracles in my life have been the birth of my five children and my nine grandchildren. I was present for the birth of each of my children and have seen each of my grandchildren on shortly after their birth. What a blessing it has been to witness the great miracle of birth. And I am proud of my children and their spouses that they have accepted God's will and the great responsibility of becoming parents. Of course, there are a lot of joys associated with being parents but it also involves sacrifice and sometimes sorrow.
Last Sunday, we had a birthday party at our house. Except for one child and one grandchild, all of our children, their spouses, and their children were present. It was a joyous occasion. My youngest grandson, Dominic, who is two, was at the other end of the table from me. He calls me De-do. Dominic kept making faces at me. Then, again and again, he ran to my end of the table and either high fived me or give me a fist bump.
Children and grandchildren are such a blessing. But, it takes faith to bring children into the world today. Like Mary, spouses have to trust that God will give them the grace to handle whatever life throws at them.
Hopefully, as we reflect on our lives, we can see instances where we have faithfully accepted God’s will. We may see this in our family as we endure the day to day struggles of life. We may see it in our marriage as we struggle to remain faithful to our marriage vows. Or we may see it in our illnesses and our continuing aches and pains.
Today, as we approach the solemn feast of Christ’s birth, we should all reflect upon the woman whose faithfulness made it possible. Mary could have said: it's my body, my choice. Or I don't fully understand this. Or giving birth to the Messiah is too much to ask of me. Where would the world be today if Mary hadn’t said yes? How will our world be changed if we faithfully say yes to God’s will for us?
Have a Merry Christmas!