Friday, March 25, 2016

Yes, and no

This year a rare conjunction happens that you are never going to read about in the horoscope column. It’s not a rare conjunction of the planets in this or that house of the zodiac. No, this conjunction is the meeting in heaven and on earth of two annual events, the feast of the Annunciation, and the fast of Good Friday.

In the first, a young, betrothed but unwedded virgin of ancient Israel hears the first words of the Good News, and not from a human being but from the bloodless lips of a bodiless power, ‘God has chosen you to be the mother of His only-begotten Son.’ In the second, we hear the last, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’

This rare conjunction is happening today for those Christians who divide time according to the ‘new’ Gregorian calendar. For me, this conjunction isn’t happening. I am a Christian who divides time according to the ‘old’ Julian calendar. Why? Because I am a Greek Orthodox, and that’s what we do, at least at this time of the year.

Still, there’s only one Church, no matter how we or anyone else divides it up, and so I can’t help wonder at this conjunction of important events in salvation history. Not being a Roman Catholic, I don’t know for sure what they do when an important holy day falls on any day of Holy Week. The movable fast, Good Friday, probably becomes immovable, and the fixed feast probably yields, to be observed on the next ‘open’ day. I can only hope that the significance of this conjunction isn’t lost on those who could notice it if they would.

God wants to enter the world He made as one of His creatures. He wants to enter through the door which is the womb of Mary. In this case, it is God who proposes, and woman who disposes. That she says ‘Yes’ has a greater impact on the universe than any other ‘yes’ in history. She inaugurates the Messianic Age.

God wants the creatures that He has made to enter heaven. He wants to open to them a door which is the tomb of Jesus. In this case, it is God who takes on our sinful flesh and lets it be nailed to the cross. That Christ says ‘No’ to death and hell has a greater impact on the universe than any other ‘no’ in history. He opens the gates of Paradise.

Yes, and no. We have, and have always had, only one choice to make. Do we say ‘Yes’ to the Lord when He calls, or do we say ‘No’? Unlike the ‘once saved, always saved,’ we like Mary have to say ‘Yes’ to God continually. Our ‘Yes’ reverberates through time and to eternity, but we must live in it, personally and daily, or it will escape us. With the bride in the Song of Songs, we must say, ‘Draw me in Your footsteps, let us run…’

The conjunction of this feast and fast also reminds us of this ‘Yes’ that transfigures the world, for Mary is witness to the life of Jesus her Son from beginning to end. She is there to receive the Good News from the angel, to say ‘Yes’ to what she cannot understand, but trusts. She is there to receive the Good News from her Son dying on the Cross, again to say ‘Yes’ to what she cannot understand, but trusts. There is darkness at both events. The night, the pillar of light speaking to the maiden, she agreeing. The day, the sun conquered by night, and she believing.

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.
Amos 9:13 KJV

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