During Advent I have referred to the Discipleship Reflections by Daniel Mueggenborg - our new auxiliary bishop. Regarding Mary's call to become the Mother of God he writes, "The Gospel is about God and not us." So important to keep in mind: the Bible and especially the Gospel is first about God, not about us.
Bishop Mueggenborg continues, "It's about what God can do and not what we can do. Sometimes we can expect God to have certain criteria for those whom He chooses and works through. We can think that God will choose the holy ones, those with special talents or significant accomplishments, or even those who hold special offices. Mary had none of that but God chose her to be His instrument of salvation by becoming the mother His Son."
This Advent we have focused on prayer as the encounter of God's thirst for us and our thirst for him. We see that above all in Mary. God's thirst for our souls is so great that he humbled himself to become a tiny embryo in the womb of Mary. Once again to quote Bishop Mueggenborg, "Gabriel tells Mary, 'Nothing will be impossible for God.' Indeed, if God can enter into the human world as a child, be raised from the dead, and empower the Church with the Holy Spirit then nothing will be impossible for God."
Last Sunday I celebrated 46 years of priesthood. When I think of all my stumbling, all the confusion and decline since the 60's, all my own weaknesses and times of discouragement, when I think about all this, I can only say, it's not about me, it's about God. Nothing will be impossible for God. Even though I am 71, I feel a new energy, a new hope.
Many of you joined me last week in a day of fasting and prayer. We know that if we empty ourselves as Mary did, God can do the impossible. We are fasting and praying in face of what seems impossible. Let me explain. God has blessed us with beautiful children - what a great gift they are! Still they face a terrible problem: Even though they have greater material abundance - and unlimited entertainment opportunities, especially through computers and cell phones - studies show our children and youth experience a greater level of disconnectedness, depression and sadness than children even 15 years ago.
So let's pray and fast for our children. I ask you to begin the New Year by joining in a three-day fast. You can choose your own way of fasting - anything from nothing but water to abstinence from some favorite food. I recommend a Daniel Fast - a bowl of oatmeal in the morning then only vegetables and water the rest of the day. Start on January 1 after the football games if you prefer and continue through January 4. Some may want to continue as Daniel did for a full 21 days. Personally I will save that for another year or perhaps for Lent.
Mary fasted as did all faithful Jewish people. Fasting and prayer opens us to God - to thirst and hunger for him as he thirsts for us. Enjoy yourself and eat heartily this week, then dedicate three days of fasting and prayer for our children. We too want to hear those beautiful words, "Nothing will be impossible for God." Amen.