Hail Mary, full of grace…
In today’s gospel, we hear about the shepherds hurrying to Bethlehem to see Mary, Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. In those days, shepherds were typically not highly regarded, yet they were the ones chosen to hear the word of God from the angels and spread the good news throughout the land. Compare that to those among us who have answered the call to proclaim the Word at Mass through lectoring. We are ordinary people, but we are called not just to read a short story, but to proclaim the Word in a way that brings glory and praise to God.
Several years ago, I attended a memorial service for the mother of a good friend of mine for whom I have great admiration. As she eulogized her mom’s life, she said her mom taught her grace. As a young mom myself at the time, I hadn’t considered my role in teaching my daughter about grace. Yet as she explained how her mother had taught her when to speak and when to stay silent, how to have a helpful spirit, and why it’s important to always do what is right – I knew my mom had taught me the same things and I saw how important grace is in my daily life. I believe that is what Mary is teaching us through her actions of reflecting in her heart and graciously accepting the gift that was given to her.
Ephesians 2:4-5 says ,“Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace that you have been saved.” While I was thinking about what to write for this column, I heard Christian author Max Lucado on the radio say, “Grace goes beyond mercy. Mercy gave the prodigal son a second chance. Grace threw him a party. Mercy prompted the Samaritan to bandage the wounds of the victim. Grace prompted him to leave his credit card as payment for the victim’s care. Mercy forgave the thief on the cross. Grace escorted him into paradise…Grace is God walking into your world with a sparkle in his eye and an offer that’s hard to resist!”
As we wrap up our Holy Year of Mercy, I’d like to challenge us to model our lives after Mary and the shepherds as we move beyond mercy toward grace. Thank you to those who have answered the call to proclaim the Word every week so we can all know the mercy and grace granted to us by God!
Parishioner & Lector Coordinator