Next week, Bishop Rhoades is going to give us a CD titled, "The Jesus Question".
How we answer the question “Who is Jesus?” makes all the difference.
The Church today asks us to reflect on this question, and it is especially the words of the Archangel that Gabriel help us to understand who Jesus is: he is the new King of David's line, the Messiah who will restore Israel to what it is meant to be: God's righteous children who are destined for holiness and eternal life.
The first word Gabriel says, 'Hail' in the Greek language actually means 'Rejoice.' Gabriel's news about Jesus is actually something to rejoice about. A couple weeks ago I reminded us that if we don't envision that we need a savior, then Jesus' coming won't be a big deal. But if we do realize that we are sinners who are in quite a bit of a mess and really in need of Almighty God's help, today we rejoice with Mary, because that help comes once and for all in Jesus. Gabriel's first word points backwards as well; and in fact, if you take the Latin word for 'hail' which is “Ave” (as in Ave Maria) then you get Eva, the name of the first woman of all time, who along with Adam fall into the trap of sin that every one of us knows too well. Finally, after generations upon generations of waiting and expectation of that first promise God made about our redemption that the serpent's head would be crushed, Mary the New Eve and her Son, the New Adam, are here to untie the knot of sin that the human race is found tied up within. Just think, Adam and Eve, and you and me, we human beings commit a sin against God, an infinite fault against an infinitely huge and infinitely loving Creator – what could we, finite beings as we are, do to make up for that? How you do fill up the Grand Canyon when all you have is a bucket? This is God's genius today: The Lord, the infinite One who made the Grand Canyon and the ocean that can fill it, enters our finite humanity so that finite human nature can make up the infinite debt. That's what a Savior is: someone who unties the knot that binds up as prisoner. This is exactly what we all long for more than anything, ever.
But before all that could happen, we needed Mary. God chooses not to force His plan on humanity, but rather wants us to freely choose it: He invites the sinless one, Mary, to be the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all of us. Will she say yes? All of creation, Mary, waits for your reply. Angels are holding their breath as they watch your eyes burn at Gabriel's invitation. Moses, David, Abraham, and all the patriarchs had longed with all their hearts to see this moment come. Please be bold! Don't let your perfect humility hold you back when the Lord also gave you the courage and the greatness to say “amen” to His Holy Will! Please, Mary, we need you! “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.” With this reply, The world sighs with relief and delight, and Mary gives Gabriel, and the whole human race, something to rejoice about for all eternity. We have our savior. We have our hope. That is who Jesus is, and that makes all the difference. Thank you, Mary!