Today’s Gospel Reading at the Sunday Mass comes from Luke 1:26-38:
- The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 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.” But Mary said to 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. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Today’s Gospel reading continues to hammer home to same theme about to value of Spiritual Discernment that we have been reflecting upon this Advent season. I want to use this reading to talk a little about what Mary teaches about be properly positioned for a new work that God wants to do in our life.
The Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, is our perfect example in sacred Scripture of someone who was ‘In Place’ in the Circle of Grace; meaning that she was where we was supposed to be and doing the things that she was supposed to be doing. And because she was ‘In Place’, she was in the best spiritual position to easily discern the next calling that God had for her life. I’m not saying that if you are ‘In Place’ that you will literally hear the voice of God or be visited by angels, but what I do know is that living in a life in harmony with the perfect grace of God is much more spiritual peaceful than living a life in rebellion with God.
In the midst of our journey to the center of the Circle of Grace, sometimes we misunderstand the gifts that God has given each of us to build up the Church (the Body of Christ), or we simply do not trust that God can use us better than we can use ourselves. Whenever this lack of trust leads to the intentional and malicious rejection of the Holy Spirit or grace, we can usually find ourselves being ‘Out of Place’ and in the Circle of Hate. It also happens that because of a lack of maturity In Christ, we oftentimes improperly discern the will of God for our own lives and get ‘Out of Place’ even within the Circle of Grace. It also happens that when others force their will upon us, to the degree that we cannot properly use our gifts to build up the Church, we may also be ‘Out of Place’ within the Circle of Grace or the Circle of Hate.
How do we find ourselves ‘Out of Place’? Being ‘Out of Place’ stems from our human tendency to be someone other than who we were actually created to be and/or doing those things that we were not created to do. Imagine if a general surgeon in a hospital showed up to work one day thinking herself to be an accountant and, on this day, she enters the building just as she would any other day, but rather than going to prepare to perform surgery, she goes to the administrative wing of the hospital, sits down in a cubicle, and starts to crunch numbers that she does not know how to crunch. This one woman’s failure to be who she actually is would trigger a minor tornado of problems throughout the entire hospital. In the first place, because she is not in the surgery room, those who need surgery would be worse off because of her choice that day. Secondly, because she is not an accountant, the financial records of the hospital would also be in bad shape. The same responsibility that we all have to be who we are supposed to be in our temporal affairs, holds to be equally true in our Life with the Cross. We were created to know, love, and serve/trust God with all of our mind, body, soul, and strength and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Father Ryan Erlenbush wrote a great article entitled, ‘Biblical proof that Mary (and Joseph) made a vow of virginity‘ in which he proves that Our Lady had already responded to a call in her life to consecrate her womanhood to God. Similar to our Mother Mary, if we were called to do just one duty in our life it wouldn’t be so important to strive to be always be obedient to our position, but because successive callings come through being obedient we have to always work to be ‘In Place’ – that’s how we become saints. Saints are people are doing what they are supposed to do – how they are supposed to do it – and when they are supposed to do it.
Some general signs of whether you are ‘In Place’? If God keeps sending you new assignments – if new doors of grace keep opening up in your life one after the other – if new spiritual sufferings come to you – if people are approaching you to pray for them – if your cup is overflowing with grace – if co-workers In Christ are being sent to you to help you complete your assignments – if you are being to co-workers In Christ to help them complete their assignments – if you have people in your life you desire the best for you – if Satan is trying to destroy you.
In response to today’s call, perhaps you might spend some time in prayer everyday and discern with the Lord what your current assignment is and what you need to do to complete it so that you can walk into your next calling.
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”
Scripture texts in this blog are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.