Zech 2. 5-9, 14-15a; Resp: Jer 31; Lk 9. 43b-45
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
A New Way
In Luke’s gospel angelic and human voices resound earlier prophecy. The angel Gabriel focused Zechariah’s prophecy of God, “I am coming to dwell among you, says the Lord,” in the annunciation to Mary. Whatever hope the prophecy first offered, the incarnation of God in Jesus by the power their Spirit exceeded its first offer; it surpassed how humans could imagine God’s nearness.
Luke demonstrated that when Jesus told his disciples that he would be handed over: ...they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.
For all our sophistication, intelligence and technological talents some of God’s meaning is and will remain hidden from our ability. That means God announcing to us, revealing God’s desires to us, is God’s prerogative, and that God desires us to be bold in asking God to help us be alert to how God reveals God’s desire.
“How can this be?” Mary asked the angel, who announced she would be the Mother of God. That the truth was conveyed in a conversation—Gabriel and Mary—does not mean some instantaneous understanding was Mary’s. Rather she accepted the message she received, May it be done to me as you say./1/
What Mary did next tells me that hers was not instantaneous understanding. She journeyed/2/ to minister to her cousin Elizabeth, also pregnant and more than unexpectedly because she had been barren all her life! What went on in Mary’s heart and mind as she journeyed to her cousin? As with us when we’re alone with our thoughts, we weigh and sift, we accept or deny, we rejoice or rue our decisions. When she reached Elizabeth Mary extolled, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord!” and she did not know all that would unfold!
Our community has been stunned by tragic deaths which deeply affected the Gesu Parish; the Gesu School; the St. Ignatius High School; the Beaumont High School; and the John Carroll University communities. No one expected any of the deaths, yet so many responded in ways to incarnate God’s desire, especially in difficulties, to dwell among us. Any meaning in the deaths is hidden from us. Lack of meaning did not stop people from imagining God’s nearness or demonstrating it.
If we wonder what the prophecy, “I am coming to dwell among you, says the Lord,” includes, we know in a new way that it involves us: how we choose; how we respond; and how we receive God in and through others.
1. The annunciation to Mary is in Luke 1.28-38.
2. Luke 1.39-56.
Wiki-image of the Galilee is used according to Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 license.