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Vulnerable to Hope

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

First Reading: Revelation 11:19A; 12:1-6, 10

God’s temple in heaven was opened,
and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.
Then another sign appeared in the sky;
it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,
and on its heads were seven diadems.
Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky
and hurled them down to the earth.
Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth,
to devour her child when she gave birth.
She gave birth to a son, a male child,
destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.
Her child was caught up to God and his throne.
The woman herself fled into the desert
where she had a place prepared by God.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed.”

Responsorial Psalm: Judith 13:18BCDE, 19

R. You are the highest honor of our race.
Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God,
above all the women on earth;
and blessed be the LORD God,
the creator of heaven and earth.
R. You are the highest honor of our race.
Your deed of hope will never be forgotten
by those who tell of the might of God.
R. You are the highest honor of our race.

Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

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, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

NAB

dec 12

“For nothing will be impossible for God.”

On those good days, I believe it. My heart soars with confidence in Him. . . in hope. But those bad days. . . oh, those bad days will wreck you. Because those bad days will remind you. They will remind you that the impossible still seems, well, impossible.

So much of me aches with wistful desire when I read today’s Gospel. I ache for the hope in it, for the beauty, for the fulfillment. I suppose it’s because part of me perpetually lives in those bad days, tangled tightly in a web of seemingly impossible circumstances. Day in and day out, I reach for those good days, for hope; but these arms of mine, they fall short. . . often.

And it makes me wonder about Elizabeth, because I know her specific pain. I live her pain—the cyclical sorrow, the crushing defeats. I, too, am called barren, and I know how much it hurts. I wonder about her bouts with doubt or her tear-soaked pillows, her good days, and her bad days. I wonder if she gave up and screamed at the sky in a frustrated fury. I can only guess that her heart hurt like mine, because that’s what infertility does. It knocks the wind right out of you over and over again.

But nothing is impossible for God, is it? It’s a scary thought, really. Because the moment you fully allow yourself to become consumed with that belief is the very moment you allow yourself to become vulnerable to disappointment. But the truth of the matter is that we never saw Elizabeth in the depths of her sorrow, when overcoming the impossible seemed so very, very. . . impossible. She must have had those bad days, too, when hope seemed an insurmountable task.

But there it is, right there in today’s reading—the impossible made possible. Isn’t it a beautiful reminder? So, if you’re in the midst of one of those bad days when hope is an arduous undertaking, seek out the vulnerability hope brings and remember that “nothing will be impossible for God.”

photo credit

Brittany Calavitta is an enthusiastic advocate for a good book, strong coffee, and a hopeful heart. She currently resides in Irvine, California with her hipster husband and overweight Chihuahua. You can find out more about her here.

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