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  • Writer's pictureFr. Gustavo

"How can it be?"

The Angel visits Mary
"The Annunciation" (1849) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

In 1738, Charles Wesley was thirty-one years old when he wrote one of his most powerful hymns about God’s love and grace.  In the hymn, he asks,


“How can it be

That Thou, my God, should die for me!”


Indeed, “Amazing love!”  Indeed, why in heavens Jesus,


(…) left His Father's throne above,

So free, so infinite His grace;

Emptied Himself of all but love,

And bled for Adam's helpless race;

'Tis mercy all, immense and free;

For, O my God, it found out me.


Let me suggest that, perhaps, if Mary have had the chance to hear the hymn, she would have loved to sing it.  For in her heart, Mary wondered, – “How can this be?”  Indeed, how can it be?


How could it be that God bet the farm in the hope that a young girl would accept his call to serve Him in unheard of ways? How could it be that a God so good and noble would stoop himself to abide in us?


In many ways the world hasn’t changed too much since Charles Wesley’s days.  And even since January 1, Year Zero.


And, no.  I am not speaking about technological and scientific progress.  In fact, I believe that since creation all the way to Mary’s days and all the way to our days, the world still cannot deal with a God who goes out of his way to rescue people who still delight in giving Him the cold shoulder.


How can it be that a God so determined in having every single item of life perfectly defined and who expects all and every single soul to toe the line all the way to the grave still came to pitch his tent among us? 


How can it be that a God so immersed in purity and harmony would be willing to come down to sort out the mess we created for ourselves?


How can it be that God found a non-descript teenager in a small town in a small country to become the mother of our Savior?  And to expect a baby in the middle of winter?  Why not in the early fall or spring time?


Why not the daughter of the emperor or any other big shot of the day?  Why not the daughter of the High Priest or the greatest religious leader of the day?


Why two thousand years ago?  Why not now when we have all the media and vast resources to reach out to the ends of the world?  Why not now?


You see; for our human understanding God doesn’t get it, and now we are left with the picking up of the pieces.


How can it be that Jesus came not only to be with us for a time, but until the end of time?  How can it be that a God who is so pure and perfect decided to send His Son not only to be with us, but to abide in us?  Amazing love who found us!


Amazing love that still is knocking at the door of our hearts to be let in!  Amazing grace that still speaks to our hearts, looking forward to a trusting “Yes!”


As we draw close to the end of our Advent Journey to the Heart of God, let me ask you to take some time just to quiet your soul and ask yourself, “How can it be?”


It doesn’t matter whether you are as young as Mary or if you are such a curmudgeon as John’s father, Zachariah, was.  Or anything in between.


The Advent Season is here to help us to understand that God has a way to work out things.  Even when things don’t make a sense to us.  And even when in our thinking, there is no way out.  Or even whenever we may be tempted to think that God should have known better than dealing with us.


But here is the good news of this Holy Day:  As long as you are willing to let God to have a shot, things will work out for the good.  For God did not only bet the farm, but offered his very own Son, so that we may have life everlasting and eternal friendship with our God, Creator and Redeemer.


How do you know this is what is going to happen?  In the words of Isaiah, “The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will do it,” (Isaiah 9:7).  Or as a contemporary translation puts it, “Because God said so.”  Would that be enough for you?


May the rising light of the Most Holy Child be your guide, your hope, and the assurance of God’s love.  Amen.


Fr. Gustavo

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