1. Two of the most powerful words in any language are the words, “Yes” and “No.” Those two words, if we use them wisely, will greatly affect our lives for the good.
“Yes, I will obey you, Mom.” “Yes, I will study hard in school” “Yes, I will take this job.” “Yes, I will marry you.”
“No, I will not take drugs.” “No, I will not text and drive at the same time.” “No, I will not follow the crowd down the wrong path.”
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and asked her to be the mother of the Savior, she had to make a decision, a decision to say “Yes” or “No.” Fortunately for all of us, she said, “Yes.” “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.” Yes, I will do as God wishes.
What if Mary said “No”? “No, this sounds too dangerous.” “No, I have other plans.” “No, I don’t think I can handle this.”
If Mary had said “No”, we wouldn’t be here right now getting ready to celebrate Christmas. If Mary said “No”, there would be no Christ child, no manger, no shepherds, no angels singing…
Worse, if Mary said “No” and Jesus did not come into this world, we would not have Jesus’ teaching and example. We would not have Jesus’ death and resurrection. We would not have the Mass, the sacraments, the Holy Eucharist… How important it was for us that Mary said, “Yes.”
The key is to know when to say “Yes” and when to say “No.” In the gospel of Matthew we read of the three temptations of Christ in the desert. Three times he said “No” to Satan. When the crowd wanted to make him king, again Jesus said “No.”
When Mary asked Jesus at Cana to help the situation, he said “Yes,” and changed water into wine. When the blind man asked to see, Jesus said, “Yes. Be healed.” Jesus was tempted to say “No” in the agony in the garden. But Jesus knew that this was the time to say, “Yes, Father, Thy will be done.” And on the cross Jesus said, “Yes, Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Mary’s “Yes” was followed by Jesus’ “Yes.” Those two “Yes’s”have impacted human history for two thousand years up to this very moment.
Here at Mass we say many “Yesses.”
In the beginning we say, “Yes, Lord, we are sorry for our sins.”
When the Scriptures are proclaimed, we say, “Yes, Lord, speak. We are listening.”
At the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer, we say, “Yes, it is right to give you thanks and praise.”
During the Eucharistic Prayer, we say, “Yes, Father, we offer ourselves with Christ to You.”
At Communion time, we say, “Yes, Jesus, we welcome you into my hearts.”
And at the end of Mass, “Yes, Lord, we will go out and serve you.”
Lots of positive “Yesses” to God. Mary sets the pace.
2. In today’s gospel we hear that the baby, John the Baptist, leapt for joy in his mother’s womb. What would make you leap for joy? Maybe if you won the lottery. Maybe if you passed the bar exam. Maybe if your favorite team won the Super Bowl. Maybe if you propose marriage and she says, “Yes.” What made John the Baptist leap for joy? The presence of Jesus.
Mary is the Christ-bearer. She brings joy to others by bringing Christ to them.
Like Mary, all Christians are called to be “Christ-bearers,” to bring joy to others by bringing Christ to them. How do we do that?
When we speak kind words, reach out to the poor, and strive to promote peace, we bring Christ to others.
When we respect all human life, protect our planet, and work for justice, we bring Christ to others.
When we pray, set a good example, and serve others with love, we bring Christ to others.
A Christian is a Christ-bearer, making everyday a Christmas.
3) A final thought… I assure you that I am not dreaming of a white Christmas. As a former Chicagoan, I’ve been there. Done that. The song “White Christmas” was of course made popular by a singer named Bing Crosby. Bing said
“Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it white.”
Let us continue to share our blessings, bring Christ to others and help our weary world leap for joy.