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God loves to name people. Have you ever noticed that? All throughout the Old Testament he is changing people’s names. The new names God gives always mean something. So it should be no surprise that when the angel Gabriel came to Mary to explain God’s plan, Gabriel tells Mary the name of God’s Son – Jesus.
Jesus means “God Saves.” By naming his Son Jesus, God is telling his people that it is through this baby boy that he intends to save the world once and for all. From our perspective, this makes sense and we’ve heard that truth a thousand times. However, for Mary and any first century Jew this would have been a radical claim. Somehow Mary accepts this truth, but asks the very practical question, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” Gabriel explains that the Holy Spirit will come and overshadow her and that all things are possible with God. How does Mary respond? By saying yes. She agrees to the plan and tells Gabriel that she is God’s servant and whatever God wants, she will do.
I think a lot of us believe that Jesus is the savior of the world. I think a lot of us believe that Jesus is God. And I think a lot of us have a similar practical question, “How can I know this Jesus, if I can’t see him or hear him? How do I have a relationship with God when I don’t know if I’ve ever met God?”
The key here is to pay close attention to Gabriel’s response to Mary. Gabriel says, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you…” It is through the Holy Spirit that God makes himself manifest in the world.
Then Mary says her beautiful “Yes!” When we say yes, then Jesus is someone who we begin to recognize. It is our “yes” that allows us to see all the ways that the person of Jesus is present to us.
How do we say “yes?” Honestly, with words and with actions. We pray saying, “Yes God I want to know you and be close to you. I want to see you and experience you. Help me to know you.” And then we act by attending Mass, praying daily, receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, caring for the poor and vulnerable, loving the unlovable, feeding the hungry, sharing our lives with the estranged and more.
If you want to know Jesus Christ, seek him out and I guarantee you will find him. It all starts with God’s reaching out to us and our “yes” to his plan.
Go to Mass this weekend and during Communion, tell God you want to have a close relationship with him.