Friday, September 08, 2006

Feast of the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Chosen Together

Reading: Romans 8:28-30; Psalm 12; Matthew 1:1-23

Reflections on the topic of vocation often emphasize the personal aspect. And rightly so. God calls each one uniquely, intimately, from the mother’s womb. And yet as we celebrate the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the readings emphasize yet another aspect of God’s call. God not only calls personally, but also communally.

How does salvation come from heaven to earth? How does Jesus come to be born? How does God come to be with us? We know well the personal aspect to this answer. The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary… And she conceived of the Holy Spirit… Yet, today, our readings speak to us not so much about Mary’s momentous yes, as they do about God’s lengthy and patient preparation for the coming of His Son. Boring and unnecessary though it may seem, the genealogy in the gospel reminds us that Mary’s yes comes at the end of a long process, a long history of relationship between God and God’s people. This is not a history of pure brilliance, but of both light and shadow, of both submission and rebellion. It’s a mixed history – peopled by both saints and sinners – better yet, by individuals who are both saints and sinners. And yet, as Paul insists, it is by turning everything to their good that God cooperates with all those who love him.

Could it be that we only grow in the sense of our individual personal vocations – lay, religious, clerical or others – to the extent that we learn to appreciate our vocation as a people? Could efforts expended in this regard be a crucial way in which to address the apparent vocation crisis that we are facing?

As we celebrate the birthday of our Blessed Mother, how can we grow in the consciousness that we are all called to be true images of Christ our elder brother, sharers in the glory of God’s Son?

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