In our first reading today, Paul says something really bold. He’s talking about the good news of Jesus, and he says “according to my gospel.” My gospel. I couldn’t believe it, because usually we say it’s Jesus’ gospel, or God’s gospel, but Paul said “my gospel.” I found that surprising.
“Gospel” is an old word that means “good news,” but before it became a Christian word, it was a political word in the Greco-Roman world. It meant two things: The first was that a victory had been won on the battle field. The second was that the emperor had had a son, and with a new prince, the empire would be safe and stable, which meant a lot for people back then, just like it does today—to have a safe, peaceful country to live in is a great gift that we have as Americans. So, when Paul used this word, he was saying that God had won a great victory over death! A son had been born, Jesus Christ.
When I think about how Paul was able to claim the gospel as his, take ownership of it like he did, that took a lot of guts. I don’t know that I would have been bold enough to act like Paul did. I don’t know that I could have claimed the gospel as my own. I might think, who am I? Why would such a great big God consider someone as small as I am?
And then I think of Mary, and how brave she was. She was about as powerless as a person could be. And yet, God comes to her. By saying “yes,” she becomes the first disciple, and then what does she say? “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.”
Just think about what that means. The soul of someone so small proclaims the greatness of the Lord. In Latin, the word is “Magnificat!” Magnifies! Think of a magnifying glass. What does it do? It takes something that is small, and makes it bigger and easier to see and understand. Mary is saying that her soul makes God bigger and easier to see and understand!
Now, if you’re listening to this children’s homily, I’m guessing that you might be a child—and you might be pretty little. But your soul is just as big as anyone else’s soul. And your soul can make God bigger, and easier for other people to see and understand.
Like Paul said, it’s our gospel. It’s my gospel and it’s your gospel. It’s the good news for us, and the good news we have to tell. We can make God known, we can show the strength of our arms and strengthen others, too. We can make people who are sad feel happy again, we can feed the hungry and encourage others to do it, too, we can remember that God has won a victory over death, and that a son, Jesus Christ, was born.
This is our fourth week of Advent, the fourth week of waiting for Christmas to come. In the days we have left, talk with your parents about the ways in which you can magnify the Lord? What can you do to share the good news?
The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor for Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog