The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr Generoso Rebayla SVD — University of San Carlos, Cebu City
December 20 / Octave Before Christmas
Armin Gesswein once said: “When God is about to do something great, he starts with a difficulty. When he is about to do something truly magnificent, he starts with an impossibility.”
This quote captures the whole story of Christmas. It started with an impossibility of God becoming man. With the cooperation of Mary, the impossible and difficult thing happened.
Today, let us focus our attention on Mary. Mary is a prayerful woman. Her prayers should be the model of all our prayers. What then is prayer for Mary?
First, for Mary, prayer is LISTENING TO GOD. The Gospel says: “The angel said to Mary: “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” Mary did not understand the words of the angel at first, so she reflected on them. This was only the beginning. Throughout her life, she always listened to God. Like Mary, we can listen to the voice of God if we maintain a silent life. Let us remember that the words listen and silent have the same letters.
Second, for Mary, PRAYER IS TALKING TO GOD. In the Gospel reading, Mary said: “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” After reflecting on the words of the angel, Mary then clarified with God. She cannot imagine herself becoming pregnant with the fact that she had no relationship with a man. Prayer is not only listening to God. Prayer is also talking to God. A born-again Christian, a Muslim, and a Catholic were together. They had a wonderful conversation, but it eventually heated up and turned into a debate on how to achieve peace. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, saying, “Peace be with you. To end up your debate, ask anything to help you achieve peace.” The born-again started: “To have peace, the Muslim should be vanished from this place.” Then the Muslim retorted: “In order to have peace, the born-again should be removed from this place. It was the turn of the Catholic. He said to the angel: “I won’t ask for anything for myself, just grant the prayers of these two, and there will be peace.” Indeed, prayer is talking to God.
Third, for Mary, prayer is OBEYING THE WILL OF GOD. As the result of Mary’s listening and talking to God, she said: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Because of her yes, Christmas became possible.
As we prepare for Christmas, let us focus not on the material preparations but on the spiritual aspect like listening to God, talking to God, and obeying the will of God.
And most of all, let us pray that we will have the faith of Mary.