In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
God’s call, when the angel Gabriel visited teenage Mary, was unmistakable. It was unexpected, life-altering, and would require years to comprehend. I believe that Mary had no idea what the call really meant, not then, not at the birth or the flight to Egypt…perhaps not even at the crucifixion could she truly grasp her role in God’ miracle. Her trust in God was forged over many crises and losses. It’s no wonder she is called “highly favored by God.”
Looking back at my life, God has spoken to me in both comforting and disquieting ways. In each case, I was invited to change, resisted it, and would not understand the nature of that change for many years. One example stands out for me. I had joined the choir at St. Agnes Catholic Church in the early 1980s for no other reason than that my voice teacher recommended the music director there. For three years, I sang through the complete liturgical year, including midnight masses at Christmas and Easter. We sang the old music — Gregorian chant, the psalter, the great music of the Baroque and Renaissance periods. I took communion along with my fellow choristers. I had had no religious formation growing up, so I never questioned the meaning of all this. It just seeped into my heart through the ritual and sacred music.
Then I heard from my voice teacher that the music director had said, “Kathy would make a good Catholic.” This deeply offended and upset me. I had assumed I was at least a Christian, since I wasn’t anything else, and I was “passing” pretty well as a Catholic. I was jolted and jarred into admitting that I had never been baptized, let alone ever tried to understand what it meant to follow Christ. The depth of my discomfort was a good clue that God needed me to hear this message.
I slowly started down the path of becoming a Christian, was eventually baptized, married a Christian man, and joined this church. My faith is central to my life now, and it continues to jolt me into uncomfortable honesty and subsequent growth.— Kathy Kramer Howe
Prayer: May we pay attention during this Advent season to whatever we struggle with, asking God if this is God’s call. God’s ways are never static for long. May we seek to listen, explore, yield, surrender, and trust – as blessed Mary did. Amen.