Summary: Sermon discusses Mary’s willingess to become God’s handmaiden. Three lessons are also examined: We are never alone, We are part of a greater plan, and Being faithful leads to greater opportunites to serve God.
The other day I was scanning a popular men’s magazine and came across a quiz that tested, “How Daring Are You?” At first, I was certain that I’d score pretty well because I consider myself an innovator and risk taker. For example, I tried Cherry Coke when it first came out on the market; I often drive in the fast lane on the freeway, and have ventured into wearing striped shirts. Why just last week, I even rode the roller coaster at Walt Disney World’s “Toon Town” with my five year-old daughter. I want to point out that unlike all the little kids, I wasn’t even scared, except for the first big dip and was just a little scared on the second sharp turn. Meanwhile, as I answered each question on the quiz I realized I really wasn’t very daring at all. I failed miserably on questions that wanted to know the last time I stole something, or got into a fistfight, or ate live slimy creatures. About the only points I got was when the magazine asked about tattoos. Back around the third grade, I remember putting a tattoo on my arm with water. The tattoo came with a stick of bubble gum. I guess you have to take points where you can get them.
As I thought about the quiz, it became apparent that the daring people who drive motor vehicles while intoxicated, get in bar fights, and recklessly gamble their weekly wages away are foolish people. At the extreme, daring people don’t mind playing Russian roulette with their lives because they don’t value their lives very much and probably suffer from low self-esteem. Only people who think they have limited futures take unreasonable chances. Limited potential people are unfortunate because they do not know what they want, they don’t know who they want to be, or know how to get where they want to go. They are lost souls in a lifelong search for meaning.
Who Are We?
Recently I’ve come to the realization that many people don’t have a clue what they want out of life. My revelation comes from my secular job where I’m trying to hire two finance/accounting professionals. I am having no luck locating the right people to fill the position. Generally speaking, I am targeting entry-level individuals that have recently graduated from college and have a GPA of 3.5 or better. My interview question is very simple. In order to know about their goals and ambitions I ask all potential candidates, “What do you want out of life?” Instead of receiving enthusiastic responses of candidates’ hopes and dreams, I mostly get blank looks and empty stares. One would think that after twelve years of school (fourteen if you count pre-K and kindergarten) and four years of college, young adults would know what they want. They don’t. I must rephrase my question to get any type of response. I ask, “What do you hope to accomplish professionally?” The candidates’ responses are very revealing. Rather than telling me about the skills they wanted to learn and the responsibility they hope to acquire, they focus on the money, position, and stuff that they wanted to get. In other words, today’s young workforce sees their future more in what they hope to amass rather than who they want to become. This makes me suspicious whether they are willing to put in the hard work to achieve their goals or whether they are too focused on potential rewards and benefits. Success is not won, given, or purchased, but rather comes from years of effort, hard work, and devotion to one’s craft. Unlike the movies, there are no silver bullets in life and our greatest satisfaction comes from overcoming life’s many challenges. Our popular culture has people fooled – our journey in life is more beneficial than the rewards we reap because we build our character in the process. Unfortunately, our obsession and desire to accumulate stuff creates unforeseen spiritual consequences that reduce our dependence on God and concern for others. Looking out for Number One ironically blocks us off from an intimate relationship with God. Without Him, our inner desire for joy, fulfillment, and true love will never be fully realized.
Thank goodness for our blessed Theotokos (“God bearer”) Virgin Mary who allowed herself to be used by God so that humanity can be saved through her son. Too often, we see people acting against God’s plan by destroying and perverting God’s perfect creation. The Annunciation, on the other hand, is a positive response by humankind to co-create and partner with God. Certainly, the Annunciation recognizes God’s commitment and initiative to save His people, but His initiative could not be fulfilled unless the Virgin Mary willing submitted to become the Mother of God. Thus, in the feast of the Annunciation we have humankind cooperating with God. This theme is the pillar of our faith.