Bishop Donald Bolen, Ordained Bishop of Saskatoon on the Feast of the Annunciation, 2010…
(Below is a full text of Bishop Don’s Christmas message to all parishioners…)
Dear People of God of the Diocese of Saskatoon,
Grace and peace to you in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing this Christmas message on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and pondering the Gospel for that day, the Annunciation. In a sense the birth of Christ and all that follows from it begins here in this conversation between the angel Gabriel and Mary.
A recent reflection by Fr. James Martin – on a depiction of the Annunciation by the Sienese artist Marco Romano from the early 14th century – offered an insight worth expanding on. We tend to think of Mary as being surprised, and indeed St. Luke relates her as being perplexed by Gabriel’s greeting (1:29), and asking ‘how can this be?’ after being told she would conceive and bear a child whose kingdom will last forever. But Romano’s sculpture, while depicting Mary’s being perplexed, shows a look of utter amazement on the face of the angel Gabriel. James Martin suggests that Gabriel’s awe may well come from the words he is asked to speak in response to Mary: ‘the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you’ – in a word, he is asked to tell her that God is coming into the world, and will be born to her. In speaking those words, Gabriel may well have been wrapped in amazement.
Dear friends, like the angel Gabriel we are called to take to heart and to proclaim the most amazing message, to share with others unimaginable good news: that the ‘Ancient of Days’ is carried in a womb; that the eternal Word, the author of all that is, has become small enough to fit in a manger; that the ‘Master of the Universe’ is wrapped in swaddling cloths, God penetrating and inhabiting the ordinariness of human life; that here in this birth, God has come in search of us, in order to show us what it is to be human, to reveal God’s eternal designs for us, and to redeem us.
We are often reminded that, like Mary, we are called to say yes to this extraordinary initiative from God. Let us also remember that we, like Gabriel, are called to speak this mystery to others, to give voice to this most amazing news. It is for us to find ways to speak this message to others, and in order to do so, we need to be deeply convinced of it ourselves; so convinced that we allow this mystery to filter down into every part of our lives, transforming our understanding of ourselves, our relationships, our purpose in life; for it is lives transformed by that message which best allow it to be heard with integrity.
And so as we prepare to celebrate God’s coming in the flesh, let us be overshadowed by it, daring to be wrapped in amazement as we ponder what is happening here; let us come before the manger, as before the cross, worshipping the Lord with full mind and heart; and let us be flooded with joy, transforming joy… And then, as always, let us try to do our small part in joining the Incarnate word who has come to transform and redeem the world.
Yours in Christ,
+ Donald Bolen
Bishop of Saskatoon