When runners run a relay race, each is responsible for a portion of the race. When the baton is passed, a new runner becomes responsible for the new lap. Each builds on the work of the previous. And each hands off to the next the work they accomplished. Celebrating a birthday is an acknowledgement that the baton has been passed and what we accomplish in a lifetime is our contribution to the race. Clearly our lap of the race continues for a lifetime although we “pass on” the baton to others along the journey. Mary of Nazareth, whose nativity we celebrate today, had a specific role in the story of salvation. What she received from her parents she now passes on to her Son Jesus. But her portion of the story does continue on.
The ancient prophecies foretold the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation in the birth of a Messiah. And when God chose to share our nature, that same nature created in his image, God took to himself the totality of our flawed and imperfect nature. So the genealogy of Jesus includes flawed and imperfect individuals, whether ancestors of Mary who shared a genetic link with Jesus, or ancestors of Joseph who shared a cultural link. In both cases, there were flawed and imperfect individuals, and Jesus’ life was all the richer for it, if only to assure us that God can do wonders with whatever we give him.
So we need not fear that such flawed and imperfect people can inhabit our family tree as well. We are accountable to God for that lap of the race that we run, once we are handed the baton … up until we hand it on to someone else. Where has your journey taken you? What are you passing on to those who come after you? And we still have time to accomplish great things. Or rather, God has time to accomplish great things in our lives if only we are receptive to his grace as Mary was and as Mary did, if we bring forth Jesus into the world by our words and manner of life.
This mass was offered for the repose of +Paula Doherty.
Rolo B Castillo © 2020