March 25, 2015
(The Annunciation of the Lord)
The Prophet Isaiah said to King Ahaz, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us!’” Is_7:10-14; 8:10
The Angel Gabriel said to Mary, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.” Lk 1:26-38
Sign, Sacrifice and Salvation
It seems that throughout the recorded history of humanity, people have always had this great need for signs. We saw it in the Old Testament with the prophets who offered signs to the Israelites to try to entice them to come back to the ways of God. We saw it in the New Testament, when the Pharisees constantly pestered Jesus for signs, while they ironically, seemed to miss or ignore all the signs He did give them. And even today, if we look around, there are signs of warning, signs of invitation, and signs of hope all
And it’s funny, because, with all those signs, many people, still, never seem to be satisfied. And the reason for their dissatisfaction is because they’ve lost all sense of sacrifice. We might say that it all goes back to that old cliche, “No pain – no gain.”
And by our age, we have certainly had our share of pain. And every time that pain subsides, or that hurt fades, or those clouds give way to sunshine, that sunshine seems 100-times brighter than it ever was – before those clouds appeared.
You see, without the clouds, without the sacrifice of the loss of the sunshine, we might never have appreciated the beauty, and the warmth and the glory of that sun. And the next time those clouds build up again, we know that they are just another sign of something much, much better to come.
You see, when there is sacrifice, it makes the fulfillment of the sign a certainty – and not a dreaded fear.
In today’s first reading, King Ahaz didn’t want to see Isaiah’s sign, because he thought it would aggravate God. But God will not give us signs unless He feels they are very important for us to see. And the sign that King Ahaz’s received was not only a sign of God’s care for him, but it also prefigured God’s sign of love for ALL of humanity and for all of time – through the Blessed Virgin Mary and through Jesus Christ.
You see, Mary’s “Yes” to accept the Angel Gabriel’s sign and to follow the will of God, was an incredible Sacrifice on the part of Mary. She risked not only her reputation, but the possibility of losing her husband, and even facing death by stoning – which all led to our Salvation.
Jesus’ “Yes” to the will of God, His Father, to become human, to suffer, just as we do in this physical humanity, and to even face humiliation, physical pain and death by crucifixion – all led to our Salvation because of God’s great love for us.
So the next time we see any sign from God, beloved, it may be a warning, or an invitation, or even a promise of hope, then that’s the time for us to open up our hearts and know – that even though it may involve some sacrifice, our salvation is most certainly close at hand, and we have absolutely nothing to dread or fear, because we know that our God Loves us, and His signs truly are – all around us!
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