Luke 1:26-38

“How can this be?”

Our Gospel, on this the 4th Sunday of Lent, is about the Annunciation…the announcement of the Incarnation by the angel Gabriel to Mary.

And there is something to it that I think speaks to our EC community in a powerful way in the 21st century, but particularly this year.

It is this:

The Annunciation is wildly, defiantly countercultural.
It is rebellious.
It is a challenge that is offered – and, to our amazement, accepted.

Gabriel comes to a virgin and tells her something stunning.
She will bear a child.
It is an event she never anticipated, one she never planned for.      
She’s practically a child herself, in a poor town, and she is being told that God wants her to play a critical role in salvation history
The angel makes clear: what is about to happen to her will change the world.

And in that moment, Mary utters her first words in the Gospel…words that speak for all of humanity, in all our confusion:

“How can this be?”

She seeks an answer, an explanation, some plausible reason for something so implausible.

How many of us have asked the same question?

How often have we struggled to understand God’s plan in our lives?

How many of us have been blindsided by events (like a pandemic!) we never expected – a twist on life’s path that we never saw coming, for better or for worse — and asked ourselves, in fury or despair or discouragement:

How can this be?

And here Mary is told, simply:

“Nothing is impossible with God.”

And that is enough.

That is all she needs to hear.

She will accept God’s will and she will carry it out.

It’s – in every sense – extraordinary. 
ow is it that someone so young can so easily say “Yes” to what will undoubtedly be difficult, and painful, and maybe even scandalous?
The very idea of it is a shock. 
It goes against our culture.

We live in an age when it’s so easy to say “No.”
We can make life what we want it to be – even if that’s not what it should be.

But Mary didn’t. 
Mary wouldn't.
She listened to another voice. 
The voice of an angel.
When Mary asked the question the world asks so often of God – “How can this be? “— the answer ignited in her a fire.
The fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of possibility.

The answer is this: 

It can be because God wills it to be.
Nothing is impossible with God.
How often we forget that. 
How often we disbelieve it or mistrust it.

But the lesson of the annunciation is so clear.

At this dark moment in time, at this darkest time of the year, what is being announced is hope.
Mary, we’re told, was troubled at what she heard.
But what follows is a message for all of us at EC. 
In our moments of confusion, when we are troubled by what life brings to us…nothing is impossible for our God.

On this final Sunday of Advent, Mary is challenged.
And so is the community of Eastside Catholic. 

The gospel asks us to look deeply at the unexpected, and the miraculous, and the mysterious.

It asks us to consider possibility.
And it asks us to look into our own hearts.

We may find ourselves mentally and emotionally done with this virus.
We may feel tired, discouraged, maybe even anger.
And we may ask those words that Mary asked so long ago, 
How can this be?”

How will I get through it?
How will I manage?

The answer is the same today as it was 2,000 years ago.

And that is what we cling to.

It is possible.

Because nothing is impossible with God.

~ Adapted from a homily by Deacon Greg Kandra

Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Holy New Year to the extraordinary community of Eastside Catholic from Campus Ministry! God’s blessings to you and your family!


Questions to Ponder:

  1. How do you respond to the Gabriels in your own life?
  2. How do you react when God suddenly knocks on your door to announce a change in plans?
  3. When the doctor calls…
  4. When the market fails…
  5. When a pandemic spreads across the world for the better part of a year or more…