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12.31.17: One 'yes' made a difference

Homily from the 5:30 p.m. Mass at St. Mary Catholic Church in Crown Point, Ind.

One of the real privileges of the past six years of seminary education was spending 10 weeks last year in the Holy Land, and about 5 days of that was spent in Nazareth.

The Nazareth of today, it’s not huge. It’s a little smaller than Hammond. But wherever you are, you can see the Church of the Annunciation.

It’s this huge mid-century modern edifice with Art Deco accents on the outside, but inside, it’s absolutely overwhelming. There are mosaics and sculptures from around the world, each depicting Mary in a title particularly significant in that nation. People are mulling about at all times.

Then you go downstairs to the grotto, and there’s absolute silence. You see, that’s the spot where, we believe, Gabriel appeared to Mary. That’s where she gave that first, ‘yes’ to God.

It’s that ‘yes,’ that response to the will of God that forever changed human history. Mary’s ‘yes’ helped bring God to earth. Mary’s ‘yes’ set the stage for our redemption.

And yet, Mary was never the star. It was God. God was the star. It was all about doing the will of God. Everything about Mary points to Jesus. Even today, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

The Greeks in particular, have embraced this title. Mary is revered as the Theotokos, the God-bearer. She’s the one God chose to bring his Son into the world.

With that ‘yes,’ Mary showed us what true discipleship can look like. It’s trust. Trusting that God has a plan for your life. Trusting that you might not know what it is, you might not fully comprehend it as it’s unfolding, but you trust, you trust that God is present. You trust that God is in control.

That’s the language of discipleship. When we say ‘yes’ to God, we’re called to a radical transformation of our attitudes, we’re called to embrace a new identity as beloved daughters and sons of our Lord, just like Mary. If we live out that identity, whatever we do, in word or in deed, we do in the name of Jesus, keeping Him at the center of our lives, always giving thanks to God the Father, following the example of Mary.

When we accept this call, when we truly accept this call, we live out this life in Christ. Because we’re also God-bearers. We’re the ones who bring Christ to others in this time and in this place. We bring his love, we bring his joy, we bring his peace.

We follow Mary’s lead. And it all starts with saying ‘yes.’

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