The angel tells Mary not to be afraid, for she has found favor with God. Mary, a young unmarried girl was chosen by God to bear a child who was to be Emmanuel. God is with us. God’s son – with US? How is it that we are also chosen as favored, that God is with us?
One day when I was getting a massage, Paul, the massage therapist, and I were talking about God. The question came up: Why does God choose some people to be close followers while leaving others faith-less? While neither Paul nor I claimed to really know what’s in God’s mind, Paul said, “I think maybe God looks down from heaven and sees into people’s hearts. God says, ‘Yes! I can work with that one. This one is too busy to pay attention to me. That one has an open heart!’”
How does one have an empty enough heart so as to receive God within? –unlike Mary, but within our spiritual being? British author Caryll Houselander
uses the symbols of the reed, the chalice, and the bird’s nest to convey Mary’s emptiness. Each requires some preparation for its useful emptiness.
The reed that grows by the river needs to be cut, hollowed, and pierced to utter a shepherd’s song. Material must be gathered and hewn from a rock, then shaped into a useful cup. Twigs and down are brought from a distance by a mother bird to prepare a soothing nest for her eggs. Each of the symbols has a singular purpose: to experience a transformation into something with emptiness, fit for receiving.
Let us ask: During this Christmas Season (Advent through the Epiphany of the Lord) how might I meet Jesus whom we celebrated Christmas morning -- Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace? How might I prepare my heart for Jesus to dwell within?
I share a greeting sent to us this Christmas: We send many good wishes your way, even while praying that God’s mercy and goodness will guide all of us in the new year—
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is Love and His gospel is Peace.
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
and in His name, all oppression shall cease.
From verse 3 of “O Holy Night” (1855)