Two Thursdays ago I was at the local abortion clinic praying with some parishioners. Just after our rosary, a homeless man walked past singing “Sweet Child of Mine” along with his boombox. He was happy as a clam, and called out as he swung by “I’m dedicating this song to the protesters at planned parenthood!” We smiled at his guileless joy. Sweet Child of Mine indeed! Praying the rosary in the midst of so many mothers and their children gives us peace and joy (and some of them do decide to keep their babies). Today’s feast is the very first mystery of the rosary. The Angel Gabriel announced the dawn of our salvation: “you will bear a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save his people.”
We certainly need a savior. The “gender wars” manifest a deep confusion about our very human identity. But Our Lady was not confused. God gave her a job to do—to have a baby, to be a mother, to be a woman—and she rejoiced in the gift. God gave our first father Adam a job and an identity as well. He was to be a man and a husband. As a man he was told to work the earth, to husband the land as a good steward. Eve received her gift too—to be a woman, a wife, and a mother—to be “fruitful.”
I think many are confused about their identity, even about their obvious “gender,” because they have not been given a job to do. Most young people over the last two generations haven't really had to work for a living. We don’t know the joy of cultivating the earth or of building a family. “Fruitfulness” is no longer a virtue but an embarrassment. Making money is more important than making babies. Farmers and families are both looked down upon. Technology has separated us from land and family.
The solution to our identify confusion? Get a job and do it. God gave Mary and Joseph jobs to do and they did it. God told Mary to have a baby. God told Joseph to “name” the baby (provide for him). No gender confusion there.
Many, perhaps most, young people over the last 40 years have not been given a clear job description, and so they naturally feel confused about their identity. What am I doing here? Why am I taking up space on this planet after all? Our Lady shows us how to get our peace and joy back: just do the job God gives you. If you are man, cultivate your little bit of land; provide for those you love. If you are a woman, have children and build a home around them. So Mary replied to the Angel, “Yes. Let it be so for me.” And Joseph? He didn’t say anything—he just got to work!