"Love our Lady. And she will obtain abundant grace to help you conquer in your daily struggle." "When you see the storm coming, if you seek safety in that firm refuge which is Mary, there will be no danger of your wavering or going down." - St. Josemaria Escriva
(Gospel Text: Lk 1:26-38)
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Today is the Feast of the Annunciation and we rightly celebrate Mary’s “yes” to God.
Our lives are filled with interruptions – things that happen that change our plans, that make demands or present opportunities we hadn’t imagined or wanted – illness, deaths, visitors, phone calls, rejections, on and on. We imagine our lives as a smooth progression, with interruptions disturbing an ordered life. But it is more likely that our lives really consist as much of our interruptions as they do of a supposed routine. Many, perhaps most, of what we think of as interruptions are instances in which God is helping us refocus. Can we pay attention, as did Mary? Can we say “yes” and go where God leads us?
Our lives too can also be filled with hope. Not a rose-colored glasses, power-of-positive-thinking type of hope. Pregnancy is about real hope, the sense that life has meaning, that new life, with its infinite potential, opens up that meaning again and again. Mary’s accepting of her awkward pregnancy is an expression of that hope, that God is in charge of the universe, that God can be trusted. In fact, God’s trustworthiness is the only real basis for hope that any of us has. Sometimes the age in which we live seems to be without hope. The institutions we trusted – government, banks, professionals, etc – have all let us down.
It is important to fully realize that Mary understood that her will is not to be done, but the will of God; that in order to find herself, she must lose herself in God, as John 3:30 states, “He must increase; I must decrease.” Just as in Mary’s “Yes”, may we also be able to respond as she did when God called her to something greater than herself. This feast reminds us that Mary did not let God work with her, but through her.
The Annunciation is about interruptions. It is about hope. Look what came of Mary’s trust! Today’s feast is itself, if you will, an interruption that subtly reminds us that God can be trusted.
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