December 1, 2019 - Pastor Message05/18/2021
THE YEAR OF DISCIPLESHIP - PART 1: HEARING THE CALL
“In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her he said, ‘Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be” (Luke 1:26-29).
We have spent the past year together reflecting on our life of prayer, as a parish and as individuals. We have learned that prayer at its most basic is simply the raising of our hearts and minds to God. When it is true, when we really open ourselves to encounter God in prayer, we cannot help but be changed by that encounter. Our response to prayer, putting the new life we have received from God into action, is what we mean by the word discipleship.
We have designated this the Year of Discipleship at St. Boniface. We will reflect together over the next several months on the meaning of discipleship, the root of which is “disciple,” from the Latin word for “student.” So, at its root, discipleship means being a student. A student’s job is first and foremost to learn and then to put those lessons into action. So it is with disciples of Christ. We begin our reflection on discipleship during the Advent season, a time when we will hear about several disciples in our Mass readings. Chief among them is Mary, who, upon hearing the angel’s message, became “troubled” and “pondered” what his words meant. Though Christ was not yet born, nor even conceived, in this world, as the Son of God and second person of the Holy Trinity he was already mysteriously present and at work in the angel’s words, touching Mary’s heart, mind, and soul, and moving her to obediently surrender to the Father’s will.
Of course, she still had free will of her own and therefore was always free to decline, but a disciple is one who learns before acting. So what did Mary learn from the angel’s message? Hope. She learned that God had not abandoned his people but that he was now fulfilling his promises from ages past,
overcoming the impossible and bringing about a new reality. And though she did not fully understand these words, she learned that God had chosen her among all women to have a special role in this plan. Her encounter with God in prayer taught her hope, and she responded by faithfully accepting her role as the mother of the messiah, despite all the difficulties she knew this path would hold. May we, disciples like Mary, learn from our encounters with God, whatever he may wish to teach us, and may we respond, like Mary, by faithfully following the path God chooses for us.
Fr. Marc Stockton