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The wisdom of Jesus is uplifting, soul feeding, awesome, timeless. [music]
Do you proactively look for opportunities to collaborate with God? Hi, I'm Matthew Kelly. Welcome back to Radical and Relevant, where we're exploring the enduring wisdom of Jesus' teachings on our journey through advent and toward Christmas. In today's gospel, from the first chapter of Luke's Gospel, we witness the greatest collaboration between God and a human being in all of human history. In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph of the House of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at the same and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever. And of his kingdom, there will be no end."
And Mary said to the angel, "How can this be since I have no husband?" And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called Holy, the Son of God." And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth, in her old age, has also conceived a son. And this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God, nothing is impossible." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done unto me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
The word that jumps out at me today is afraid. Fear is a powerful emotion. The three most common emotions in our age are fear, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed. What are you afraid of? What are your fears? How do your fears influence your actions? How do you edit yourself because of the things you fear might happen if you shared your whole self with people? Throughout his life, the message Jesus repeated to people the most was do not be afraid. Not love God, or love neighbor, or any of the other messages we rightly know to be at the epicenter of Christianity. Instead, he counseled us to govern our fears. Why? Perhaps because he knew fear, more than anything else, can prevent us from getting to the epicenter of Christianity and discovering our most authentic self. So God says to you what He said to Mary and Moses, Solomon and Peter so many others throughout history. Do not be afraid. The phrase that grabs my attention in today's passage is full of grace. Imagine being full of goodness and favor. Imagine grace overflowed from you wherever you went. Mary was full of grace. God yearns to fill you with His grace. He gives us prayer, the sacraments, the Scriptures, works of mercy, and love of neighbor to allow ourselves to be filled with His grace. But we also turn our backs on God and turn our backs on His wisdom at times. And these moments have an emptying effect, draining the grace from our souls. Do you desire grace? Do you want to be full of grace? Do you want your marriage, your family, your business, your friendships, parish, local community to be filled with God's grace? If we stop to think on it, the answer is a resounding yes. The problem is we don't stop to think on it. Enter into a meditation on grace. Imagine yourself full of grace, full of God's grace. Envision that. His grace pouring through you and overflowing everywhere you go. And then ask God, beseech God, beg Him to fill you with His grace so you can share it with those He sends into your life.
And the idea that strikes me in this passage is this: "How can this be? How can this be?" When the angel tells Mary she's to bear a child, the Savior of the world, she doesn't say, "That's impossible. I've never been with a man." No, Mary possesses a faith that is subtle and bold. It's nuanced and mighty at the same time. Here we witness an extraordinary example of that faith. It would have been easy to question God, easy to doubt God, to operate on the level of human knowledge, and believe that what the angel was saying was impossible. But Mary didn't do that. Mary didn't say, "This cannot be." She said, "How can this be? How can this be?" What was she really saying? She's really saying, "I trust you, God. I don't understand what I believe. Just show me how what you are saying is going to come to be." And so today's virtue is faith. In a world that becomes more and more pagan with every passing day, we are called to believe and believe boldly.
What seemingly impossible thing do you need God to do in your life right now? Ask and you shall receive. When did you last ask God to give you more faith? Let that be our prayer today. Over and again, throughout the day, whisper to God, "Lord, increase my faith." Pray it a hundred times, 200 times. Make it a constant plea to God this day. "Lord, increase my faith". And then, with that faith, go out into the world, proactively looking for opportunities to collaborate with God. Astonish the world with your faith. Look for subtle ways to express your faith in this world full of unbelievers. It can be done simply and humbly by saying things like, "I'm excited to see what God is going to do in this situation." The Gospel of Jesus Christ is as radical and relevant today as ever before. Go out into the world today and astonish people with your faith. Be the very best version of yourself. Be all that God created you to be.
Thank you, ambassadors.
You are changing the world.
Have a great day.
Simon, come sit.
I love you.
Have a great day. [applause]