Today we celebrate the feast of Mary, Mother of God. As a male, I have no experiece and little understanding of motherhood. Yet, the circumstances of Mary's becoming a mother amaze me no end. Here is a young, unwed Jewish maiden in her teens. Approached by an angel, she receives God's invitation to become the mother of the long-awaited Messiah. Despite the seemingly overwhelming obstacles in her way, she accepts God's invitation. We know the rest of the story. We also know she suffered greatly throughout her life because of her willingness to accept God's invitation.

In the Sunday Gospel stories we hear during the year, we recall people who do not accept God's invitations. Remember the rich man with a basically good heart who wanted to follow Jesus more closely? Jesus invites him to sell what he has and then give the money to the poor, for Jesus knows the man is far too attached to material things. But the young man's attachment is too strong, so he leaves Jesus' company, never to be heard from again.

Remember too the parable of the wealthy man who invites guests to the wedding party he is giving? But the invited guests find all kinds of excuses not to come, much to the rich man's dismay. It was to be a wonderful banquet, and their excuses make little sense; so we tend to blame them for not coming.

But suppose we consider how we ourselves respond to God's invitations in our lives. When people reach out to us in need, God invites us to share our goods. When people suffer injustices, God invites us to take up their causes. When we witness the beauty of Nature, God invites our gratitude. When pain and turmoil strain our family and personal relationships, God invites our patience and perseverance. When anxieties threaten to overwhelm us, God invites our calmness and courage. In the frequent health struggles of our senior years, God invites us to accept our personal limitations and vulnerabilities.

Then too, God invites us to come together in community every Sunday morning to celebrate God's goodness in our lives. God spreads the Banquet Table for our hungry and thirsty souls,

offering Jesus in Communion, Gospel lessons to guide our lives, and the fellowship and support of a Spirited community. Yet we frequently find excuses not to come. Do we fault ourselves for our absence from church just as we fault the invited guests for their absence from the wedding banquet in the Gospel parable?

How often do we imitate Mary's free and spontaneous response to God's invitations in our lives? Certainly not as often as we could. Nor as often as we should. Many times and in many ways God keeps inviting us to become the people God wants us to be. When we offer the excuse that God expects too much of us, God gives us the wonderful example of a young Jewish maiden, an unwed, teenager who conceives and gives birth to a Baby, and whose feast we celebrate today: Mary, the Mother of God!

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