The Second Vatican Council presents Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ, as the «prototype and model for the Church», and describes her as a humble woman who listens to God with trust and joy. With that same attitude we should listen to God in the Church today.
«Rejoice». It’s the first thing Mary hears from God and the first that we should hear also today. We are lacking joy. Frequently we let ourselves be infected with the sadness of a Church grown old and worn-out. Is Jesus no longer Good News? Do we no longer feel the joy of being his followers? When joy is lacking, faith loses its freshness, courtesy disappears, friendship among believers grows cold. Everything becomes harder. It’s urgent to awaken joy in our communities and recover the peace that Jesus has left us as an inheritance.
«The Lord is with you». Joy isn’t easy in the Church today. It can only be born of trust in God. We aren’t orphans. We go about each day calling on God our Father who accompanies us, defends us, and seeks always the good of every human being. God is also with us.
This Church which is sometimes so confused and lost, which doesn’t get it right about returning to the Gospel, isn’t alone. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is looking for us. His Spirit is attracting us. We count on its strength and understanding. Jesus hasn’t abandoned us. With him everything is possible.
«Don’t be afraid». Many fears paralyze Jesus’ followers. Fear of the modern world and of an unbelieving society. Fear of an uncertain future. Fear of a conversion to the Gospel. Fear is doing us much harm. It keeps us from walking toward the future with hope. It encloses us in the sterile conservation of the past. Our fantasies grow. Healthy realism and Gospel sense disappear.
It’s urgent to build a Church on trust. God’s strength isn’t revealed in a powerful Church, but in a humble one. In our communities we also need to listen to the words that Mary hears: «Don’t be afraid».
«You will give birth to a son, and will give him the name Jesus». As with Mary, we too are given a mission: be a part of bringing light in the midst of darkness. We aren’t called to judge the world, but to sow hope. Our task isn’t to put out the smoldering wick, but to light up the faith that in so many is trying to be born: we need to help men and women of today to discover Jesus.
Within our communities, every day smaller and more humble, we can be leaven for a healthier and more human world. We are in good hands. God isn’t in crisis. It’s we who haven’t dared to follow Jesus with joy and trust. Mary needs to be our model.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf