Deacon Keith Fournier
In a real and substantial way, when we respond to the words of the Lord, we also become filled with grace – and Jesus is formed within us. In that sense, we become favored
What came about in bodily form in Mary, the fullness of the godhead shining through Christ in the Blessed Virgin, takes place in a similar way in every soul that has been made pure. The Lord does not come in bodily form, for ‘we no longer know Christ according to the flesh’, but He dwells in us spiritually and the father takes up His abode with Him, the Gospel tells us. In this way the child Jesus is born in each of us. (Gregory of Nyssa)
As the celebration of the Nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ draws near, our Gospel readings tell us of several encounters between people and angels.The word angel is from a Greek word which means messenger. Angels communicate God’s messages, His plans – and they invite the people to whom they appear to respond to God’s invitation. The response matters.
The Gospel account from St Matthew told of Joseph’s experience with an Angel. (Mt. 1:18-25) We heard the story of another angelic encounter between Zechariah and an angel (Luke 1: 5-25). Zechariah, unlike Joseph, did not initially respond with a full assent of faith. It grew gradually. .
We heard of the encounter between the little Virgin of Nazareth named Mary and the Angel Gabriel. (Luke 1:26-38) Today, I will focus in on one verse and use it as a springboard to speak about the way in which we are called to respond to the Lords messengers in our own lives:
“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”. (Lk 1:28).
The angelic words from this wonderful biblical passage form the opening words of one of the most cherished prayers in Catholic piety referred to as the Hail Mary. In the twenty years that I have served as a Deacon of the Catholic Church I have found that these words – and the prayer that they intone – are a source of great comfort especially when people are ill, in trouble, or facing death.
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