December 17, 2014

We Are All Chosen and Called By God (Advent 4, Year B)

Most of us take most of our lives trying to figure out what God wants us to do. It took me about 45 years. The story of God calling Mary to become the mother of Jesus  is the ultimate “call story”. God is calling Mary to take an enormous risk, to really trust in God. She lived in a culture that stoned women to death that had children outside of marriage. This young girl of about thirteen was called to have an intimate relationship of absolute trust in God.

1. Notice how personal this relationship is. (Luke 1.28-38)
The angel does not say God is going to give her some teachings or some rules to pass on. This is what the prophets had been doing ever since Moses. God was doing a new  thing. God was about to come Himself in human form. He needed a human partner he could trust. He chose Mary and called her into a personal relationship

  2. Notice how difficult this personal relationship was
While Mary is engaged, she is not married. In fact she is being watched very carefully by the community to make sure she is faithful to Joseph. Nobody is going to believe her story that the Holy Spirit is the father of Jesus. Joseph knows he is not the father. The normal consequence would be for her to be stoned to death for a sexual relationship outside of marriage. This is why Joseph takes a nine month pregnant woman on a ninety mile donkey ride. This is why there is no room in the inn. There was a good chance that if she was left behind her relatives would kill her to avoid the embarrassment. As a woman, there was no reason for her to go and register. The birth story is so outrageous and embarrassing we know  it must be authentic.
3. Notice the peace and love that radiate from this relationship.
While Mary is described as “troubled”, she does not get angry or try to avoid the call. She is surprised but not totally confused. Her parents would have read her the Hebrew scriptures and told her the oral history of Israel. Her life would already be centred on God. This is obviously not the first time she has had a conversation with God. Her response is the response of a person of prayer and deep faith. She already has a personal relationship of trust in God. This is why God chooses her and calls her.
We are all challenged to be ready for our own call.
First of all we need to know the story. Each of us needs to read the Bible so we know for ourselves what God has done in history. We need to know what God has done in relationships with other people. Some of these stories have been exaggerated and edited for political and religious purposes. That is not the issue. The point is that there are so many stories that by reading them we can develop our own basic understanding of who God is and what God wants. The next step is to go on and develop a prayer life so we understand more clearly what God wants each of us to do and be. By getting to know the stories of Jesus for example, we can also get to know Him personally. We can talk to Him in prayer and take Him off the Cross or off the altar. We can just sit with him. As our Saviour He can help us clean out the garbage in our lives.

God chose and called Mary because she was ready. She knew the stories. She was not distracted. She was not confused. She was not ashamed. She had gone through the process of getting ready. Her parents had told her the stories. She had integrated the stories into her own life, avoided the spiritual pollution of sin and become a person of great faith. God called her because she was pure and had relationship of faith. We are all chosen and called. The only difference is that we do not live in a deeply religious culture  and many of us were not taught much about God by our parents or the school system.  Most of us have to do a lot of  reading and praying; and go through a lot of healing, to develop this personal relationship and become ready for our call.

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