In five days, we will celebrate the feast of Christmas. Hovering over the Scripture readings for today is the question, “How prepared are you?” This question is not raised in some kind of judgmental way, implying that you’re not prepared. Rather, it is raised as an invitation to open your heart even more to the saving coming of the Son of God.
In the first reading from Isaiah, we hear again the prophecy that God will save his people. The sign that the fulfillment of this prophecy is at hand will be a virgin who conceives and bears a son and names him Emmanuel.
In the Gospel, we recall that astounding moment. The Angel Gabriel invites Mary, a virgin, to be the Mother of the Son of God, and she accepts. The promise and the fulfillment. God is faithful. Are we ready?
The story of the Annunciation illustrates for us the attitude of heart we need to be fully prepared. Mary is puzzled by the words of the Angel for she can’t imagine how these things could come about. Though puzzled and questioning, she nonetheless accepts whatever God is asking of her. In her heart she so totally trusts in God that she is able to say an unequivocal “yes” to whatever God wants. And, at the moment of her “yes” the Son of God is conceived within her!
So emerges the question for us, “How prepared are we?” Are we ready to open our hearts to accept whatever God is asking of us? Can we move beyond our fears and insecurities to unequivocally trust in God’s will for us? The prayer that emerges from these readings and the feast of Christmas could well be, “Come, Lord Jesus into my heart. Help me to trust in you and your loving presence in my life.”
Fr. Michael Higgins, C.P. is the director of retreats at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.