Today is the Annunciation, the Christian celebration of the announcement by the archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would become the mother of Jesus Christ. Despite being a virgin, Mary would miraculously conceive a child who would be called the Son of God.
As my friend and colleague Tom East said so well on Facebook, “I think this is an important day for us as youth ministers. We have the chance to be like Gabriel and bear God’s message of love and promise to teenagers. We speak on God’s behalf as we tell a young person: you are beautiful inside and out, and God has a plan for your life. What a privilege, this ministry we share.”
Or, as my friend and OYYAM colleague Gerard Garcia stated nicely: “TGFMY: Thank God for Mary’s Yes!”
Today’s feast day was significant to me, and not just because I could eat meat all day (despite it being a Friday in Lent).
Rather, I had a chance to spend some time reflecting on my calling as a Catholic youth minister. Continuing the thoughts expressed by Tom, not only do we have a chance to be like Gabriel, but we are also like Mary.
We may struggle with our calling sometimes, especially when things don’t go as well as we like. We fret about numbers. We worry about logistics. And we stress about our talk or teaching falling flat.
But we can learn a lot from Mary, especially in her faithfulness and trust in what the angel Gabriel was saying. We, like Mary, may consider ourselves unworthy or unqualified. But we are comforted knowing that God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called!
And it’s not just the trust and faith that we have for ourselves. It’s the same trust we have when we defer an important teaching to another youth ministry leader, it’s the same confidence we have in allowing a grade seven student greet the Archbishop at Spirit Day, and it’s the same faith we have that we are indeed making a difference in the lives of young people.
We are blessed indeed, we are truly highly favoured. And it has nothing to do with us…it has everything to do with God.
He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30).
So when we’re asked if we like what we do or if we feel we’re making a difference…may our answer always be a resounding “YES!”