Friday, March 25, 2016

Beginnings and Endings, and Beginnings

Today is a most unusual day.  It is Good Friday, the day of Christ’s death.  It is also March 25th, the day which marks 9 months before Jesus’ birth on Christmas Day.  This is the day of the Annunciation of the angel to Mary that a Child would be conceived in her, and He would save the world.  And then immediately upon her assent:

The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.

That was the beginning, but mostly today we remember the end, when He said these words:

It is finished.

We often dwell on endings, especially endings of life.  Even when it results in a good thing, like Jesus’ saving of the world by His death, or the conclusion of a friend’s long painful journey, still, the endings of death bring us sadness.  It’s hard to get beyond death’s reality and finality.

“Parting is such sweet sorrow.”  As followers of Christ, that must be our mixed feelings of death, or any reluctant parting for that matter, we must consider it a sweet sorrow, because we know it is not the end.

Today, we also celebrate an ending in Mary’s life, although it is an ending we often don’t consider, but it is, for her, a radical one.  Mary had committed her body to God, and promised to remain a virgin all her life.  But then an angel came and told her that it seemed God wanted something different for her.  You shall conceive in your womb and bear a son.  Being an unmarried virgin, Mary didn’t understand, and so she humbly asked:  How can this be?  And she heard in reply:  With God nothing is impossible. And with that she stopped asking questions and accepted her destiny, which was to become a radical change from the life she had planned.

And that’s a key point, about this “ending” in Mary’s life.  It was not according to her plans.  When we lose a loved one, it is not according to our plans either.  We want our life, our plans, and our loving relationships to go on, and everything to remain just as it is --- the way we want it.  But life doesn’t go on without inevitable changes to our plans being thrust upon us.  Mary heard that change in her life was the will of God.  An angel told her so, and she accepted it ---- without sorrow.

Why are we so stubborn as to think that God must speak clearly to us too, to explain things directly to us, as His messenger did to Mary?  Why do we think that WE are so important that OUR endings must make sense to us, must be explained?

Well, the strange thing is that we ARE that important.  Don’t forget the other parting we CELEBRATE, in sorrow, today:  Jesus’ death on the cross.  We celebrate that He loved us that much, that he thought us that important, to die for us, and set in motion a much different life for us than we could ever have imagined.

I prayed the first decade of the Joyful Mysteries this morning, The Annunciation of the Angel to Mary which we celebrate today, and I read these meditation words:  “This is what I’d have you do: listen for My Will, and resolve to do it.  No matter how hard.”

That was the call made to Mary that we celebrate this day, and it is the call to all of us.  It is the prayer we must pray, the commitment we must make.  And like Jesus did on the cross, and Mary did in the quiet of her room, we must make that commitment out of love.  We must accept the changes in our life, even ones we didn’t plan, trusting they are part of His plan.

No one’s life is without change.  Every life is a series of beginnings and endings, and beginnings again.  Sorrow is acceptable at endings, but we must look forward in love to the new beginnings, until we reach the one beginning from which will be no end.  It is there, waiting for us.

He died loving us that we might have such a beginning.  Don’t be sad.  There is an Easter coming, a resurrection awaits us all.  All sorrows will someday end in joy. 

So:  Listen for My Will, and resolve to do it.  No matter how hard.  In love, accept new beginnings, and accept sad endings.  Those are the lessons to ponder this day.

And trust in Him.  Always.

Lord, I believe that You have a plan for my life, that You
have a task in Your Kingdom reserved just for me.  Your
plan and Your task are far better than any other I might
choose:  they will glorify You, fulfill the desires of my heart,
and save those souls who are depending on my generous response.

Lord, grand me the light I need to see the next step in that plan;
grant me the generosity I need to set aside my plans in favor
of Yours; and grant me the strength I need to put my hands to
Your plough and never turn back.  You know me better than I
know myself, so You know that I am sinful and weak.  All
the more reason that I need Your grace to uphold the good
desires You have planted in my heart, O Lord!

-- from The Better Part, P48

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