The beauty of each narrative found in the Sacred Scriptures lies in the fact that there are always, in reality, two narratives unfolding. Thus, when we take the time to read and meditate on the Christmas narrative, we are invited to discover both Christ’s birth in Bethlehem and, at the same time, his birth in our own lives.
Both narratives hinge upon two essential points: the marvel of God’s overwhelming love, manifested in the Incarnation, and the drama of mankind’s cooperation. The drama of whether God’s people would say yes or no to his Plan has been lived out since creation. Yet, it reaches a climax at the moment of the Annunciation, in which God reveals through his messenger his Plan of salvation to Mary. St. Bernardo relates this moment beautifully in one of his Advent homilies.
Yet, it reaches a climax at the moment of the Annunciation, in which God reveals through his messenger his Plan of salvation to Mary. St. Bernardo relates this moment beautifully in one of his Advent homilies. “Answer, then, quickly to the angel–yes, through the angel give your consent to God… Why do you delay? Why are you fearful? Believe-confess-receive. Let humility put on courage, and timidity, confidence… Open, O Blessed Virgin, your heart to faith, your lips to compliance, your bosom to your Creator. Behold, the desired of all nations stands at the gate and knocks… Arise by faith, run by devotion, open by acceptance. Mary speaks: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done unto me according to thy word.'”
Again and again we must shake our minds from its indifference, we must allow our heart’s pulse to run, and our feet to tremble. This is the moment in which the entirety of Creation holds its breath: “Will she say yes?” Just try to imagine the explosion of joy that rocked the heavens in hearing her reply…
Now, we must learn to perceive this same dramatic moment in each one of our lives. Our Savior is born and has come to live amongst us. This is the Christmas mystery that we celebrate. The Lord has entered into our world and now comes to each one of us, inviting us to follow him. It is impossible to remain neutral or indifferent before this event! It is a reality that demands an answer! The heavens and the earth wait with their breath held! Will you say yes? Will you allow this young child to reign in your heart? Will you allow Christ to enter into the world through your life? Will you work without rest so that his love might reach, conquer, and transform the culture that surrounds you? Will you pledge to stand by His side, in good times and in bad, whether it be before kings that kneel or kings that crucify?
One’s “yes” to the Lord means accepting his Plan and placing ourselves trustingly into his hands. We will pass through moments of light and darkness; still, we must always remember who it is that has called us by name and the great love that he has shown us. Pope Benedict XVI, in his most recent book, sheds light on this journey, reflecting on Mary’s own experience after the Annunciation.
In the final sentence of Luke’s Annunciation narrative we read: “And the angel departed from her” (Lk 1: 38). The great hour of Mary’s encounter with God’s messenger— in which her whole life is changed— comes to an end, and she remains there alone, with the task that truly surpasses all human capacity. There are no angels standing around her. She must continue along the path that leads through many dark moments— from Joseph’s dismay at her pregnancy to the moment when Jesus is said to be out of his mind (cf. Mk 3: 21; Jn 10: 20), right up to the night of the Cross.
How often in these situations must Mary have returned inwardly to the hour when God’s angel had spoken to her, pondering afresh the greeting: ‘Rejoice, full of grace!’ and the consoling words: “Do not be afraid!” The angel departs; her mission remains, and with it matures her inner closeness to God, a closeness that in her heart she is able to see and touch.