Don’t get mad. Get GLAD!
Leaving aside brand preferences for
trash bags, this slogan from an old commercial serves as a useful bridge
from our previous reflection of a couple weeks ago regarding the madness
surrounding the men’s college basketball field that continues to narrow
as the month wears on.
We know that, ultimately, only one
team avoids the sadness of defeat altogether and takes home a much-coveted
title: NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion! The resultant March Gladness
is restricted to the winner, and is temporary at best. But we Catholics have
our own source for a similarly seasonal celebration, one that annually
commemorates an event of 2,000-plus years ago.
Every March 25, we celebrate the
Solemnity of the Annunciation (transferred this year, by way of exception,
to March 26). It is no coincidence that this feast day falls exactly nine
months before we celebrate Christ’s birth on Christmas. Mary’s openness to
the message sent to her by God through the angel Gabriel led ultimately to
the birth of Jesus, which was a necessary precursor to the many events of a
holy life that gained for us the gift of salvation. Now that is good
news, and certainly a cause for gladness!
When Mary visited her cousin
Elizabeth, her elation at being pregnant with Jesus was evidenced by her
words: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in
God my savior" (Lk 1:46-47). This spiritual euphoria is what every true
Christian should experience when contemplating all the great things God has
done, not just for Mary, but for each of us as well.
The event of the Annunciation is a
climactic point of fulfillment of the most important Old Testament
prophecy—namely, that God would send a savior into the world. While we all
realize that there is more to the story, this is where the mystery of the
Incarnation (God becoming man) began: at Nazareth, in Mary’s womb.
As we recite the Nicene Creed at
Mass, we are directed to bow during these words about the Second Person of
the Divine Trinity: "…and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin
Mary, and became man." When celebrating the Annunciation, as on Christmas,
our usual bow is replaced with a genuflection, which slows us down during
this crucial phrase to accentuate its significance for us. Yes, God
really did humble Himself to the highest degree in order to save us from
our sins and provide for us the possibility of entering heaven. Aren’t we
glad He did? We are indeed, and our gladness is demonstrated in part by our
posture of humility when we bend our knee before the Lord God as we profess
and proclaim the doctrine of the Incarnation in the Creed.
And so, for us, the March Gladness
that follows upon March Madness is not at all restricted. In fact, it
must not be so! Our entire faith is grounded in the mystery of the
Incarnation. Our joy should be as evident as that of Mary. Our souls
internally should proclaim the greatness of the Lord, and our lives
externally should rejoice and announce God as our Savior. Such is not the
exclusive domain of Jehovah’s Witnesses or Evangelical Christians. It is—it
must be—the very source of every Christian’s joy. Christ died and
rose for us, and we are glad indeed! Let us not be afraid to show it.
You may reach Fr. Eickhoff and the Office for
at 402-488-2040 or email@example.com.