“I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38)
Over the last few days, I've been seeing a lot of friends and many former students getting engaged to be married. I literally had three within a 36-hour span and more to come as is the case with Christmas and New Year’s. Often I will see pictures on social media with the caption "She said yes!" I've never had to get down on one knee to propose, but I can imagine how nerve wracking it must be. “What if she says no?” I’m sure prospective grooms ask themselves. As we rapidly approach Christmas, we ponder today the most important "yes" ever given in human history: Mary's yes to God!
Mary becomes a dwelling place for the Almighty when she accepted God’s proposal. God’s dwelling place is at the center of today’s readings and of our celebrations in the last days of Advent. In the first reading, David is concerned because he is living in a great house yet the ark of God, where Israel believed that God’s presence dwelled was still in a tent. Yet God was not concerned about a physical house for Him but rather establishing and blessing the house of David, in other words, his lineage: “y “ (2 Samuel 7:16) God also reminds David that He has been with David and His favor rests on him. This prophecy is fulfilled in today’s gospel, and this presence and favor now rest on the Virgin Mary. The angel Gabriel tells Mary that her son will receive the throne of David his father and of his kingdom there will be no end. The God who dwelled in the Ark of the Covenant where the Ten Commandments were kept is now seeking to dwell in the ark of the New Covenant: Mary. The Blessed Mother is able to say yes, obviously because she is without sin, but also because the favor of God is with her. There is nothing in her heart that prevents her from saying yes to God. She puts no conditions. She offers no reservations. She abandons herself completely to God’s will. God comes knocking on the door of her Immaculate Heart and she humbly allows Him to dwell there.
During these final days of Advent in Mexico and in many Latin American countries, these days are marked by “Las Posadas” which re-enact what Mary and Joseph had to go through in order to find a place for them to dwell so that Jesus may be born. Time and again they went looking for a dwelling place but were rejected. How many times have we rejected God when he comes knocking at the door of our hearts? Too many times like those innkeepers we reject the Lord because we don’t have room for him. What is taking up room? It is usually sin. This is why we have four shopping days left to get rid of whatever is preventing Jesus from completely dwelling in our hearts this Christmas. Here in this church we have confessions this Tuesday night so that we may greet the Lord with open hearts on Christmas Eve. Yet we offer excuses as to why we don’t go to confession. We don’t want Christ to change our lives like he changed the lives of Mary and Joseph. But look at the Blessed Mother: “fear not” she was told! What do we have to fear if it comes from the Lord? Couples that are ready to get married probably have some fear and some doubts as they take the giant leap towards holy matrimony, but if they abandon themselves to God’s will and follow the example of the Virgin Mary and allow God and his will, not ours, to be done, then there is nothing to fear. When God calls we will always say yes!
So, as Advent rapidly comes to a close, are we ready, like Mary, to say yes to God and prepare a worthy dwelling place for him in our hearts? We are the Church, Christ’s bride, and he is our bridegroom. When he comes this Christmas and offer to change our lives, will we say yes?