Week of December 21, 2014

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Sr. Mary McGlone tells the story of Blessed Fra Angelico, a 15th century Dominican painter, who painted a depiction of today’s Gospel story of the Annunciation. Sr. McGlone thinks that Fra Angelico’s “Annunciation of Cortona” offers a very telling commentary on today’s Gospel about Gabriel’s mission to Mary. One striking element is that the artist linked Mary and the angel by writing the words of their conversation in the space between them. The angel’s declaration that the Holy Spirit will come upon her is straightforward, but her response, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word,” is written upside down and backward. According to Sr. McGlone the depiction portrays something fundamental about the implications of the human response to God’s invitation.

What then was her (Mary’s) role? She spoke not from a position of ability, but of availability. Fra Angelico depicts the effect all of this would have on her life by painting her words upside down and backwards. From the moment Mary spoke those words, her life was irrevocably changed…Her very life was to be turned upside down…

Here we have the crux of today’s readings. God invites humanity to be available. We are to cultivate our attentiveness and generosity so that we can hear well and be open to what God hopes to do through us, even though it may seem unimaginable, much less fit our plans…

The message for us, as for Mary, is that God continues to want to do what has never been done before, and that can happen only to the extent that we are willing to listen to the unexpected and to put our very selves at the disposal of God’s plan. Then, we can pray the prayer Mary very likely taught Jesus: “Thy will be done.” (Celebration)

I am looking forward to celebrating Christmas with you. It is a busy time with all of the masses and all of the people. Our Pastoral Council has been looking at how people feel welcomed and connected to our parish.

Christmas can be one of those times when we can make the effort to welcome visitors and strangers. Pope Francis said, “It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but by attraction.” A warm and friendly welcome is very attractive when you are new to a place.

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