Today’s reading from Isaiah invites us to ask for a sign, for definitive and explicit signs of God’s presence and action in the world. So often, the spiritual journey feels much more subtle. As in today’s Psalm in which we are reminded of God’s presence in all the earth and God’s interest in all persons and places, all of creation, “the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it.” The call of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit can be like a whisper - quiet, hidden, embedded in our human, earthly experience. If we aren’t paying attention, we can miss God’s grace.
And sometimes, God’s action is anything but subtle. In the gospel reading from Luke, a very unsubtle angel, Gabriel, appears to Mary, greeting her as being “full of grace,” having “found favor with God,” and conveying to her God’s plans for her to become pregnant and give birth to a king. Not really a whisper. Mary is described as being confused by the angel’s words, wondering how this could be - isn’t it impossible? Gabriel responds, closing with the promise that “nothing will be impossible for God.”
God’s action in our lives can be confusing. We may feel called, as was Mary, to the seemingly impossible. We may very likely resist the actualization of God’s grace, thinking it incompatible with reality, with what’s comprehensible. But if nothing is impossible with God - nothing - then whether we are catching the subtle whisper or being smacked by cognitive dissonance, our faith calls us to live into the impossible, even if we don’t understand it!
What would our world be like if we, instead of denying the impossible, embraced the transformative invitation of God’s action? What in your life seems impossible, but is perhaps only just beyond the reach of understanding? Where and how are you being called by God to release preconceived notions, unhelpful attitudes, closed-mindedness, closed-heartedness, comfort, stability, and the norm? What is possible with God?
John Hickman `70 is a former member of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the Board Finance Committee at Seattle Prep. He is Director of Finance and Operations at Catholic Housing Services. He and his wife, Carolyn, are parents to Reid `99, Co- Author, Kelly `01 and Sara. Kelly Hickman `01 works for the Missions Office of the Archdiocese of Seattle.