Sunday, April 7, 2013

Love Breaking Through: The Annunciation

Let us rejoice! Mary hears the word of the angel, and replies in her own wonderful words: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

The Annunciation
by Blessed John of Fiesole (Fra Angelico), 1440

The story of the Annunciation is a simple one: There is God’s choice, the intervention of the Holy Spirit, Mary’s faith-inspired acceptance, and the conception of God’s Son by a teenage girl. (cf. Adrian Nocent, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany). In the Annunciation, however, Mary did not understand everything that was happening to her. She had to accept God’s mysterious ways. But she trusted. “The Annunciation exemplifies the dynamics of Mary’s faith… She is conscious that what is growing within her womb is somehow divine. She does not doubt this interior illumination that has been granted to her; she asks only how it will come about. She accepts unseen realities, and believes, because nothing is impossible for God” (Leonardo Boff in The Maternal Face of God: The Feminine and Its Religious Expressions). On this great feast, the Solemnity of the Incarnation, the mystery of the Word of God taking on a human nature in the womb of a teenage girl, we begin looking towards the Solemnity of Christmas, still nearly nine months away.

Mary’s humble acceptance speaks to us of the willingness to accept the will of God, in whatever way it is manifested, that each of us must have if Christ is to be born in us. Mary makes her commitment without knowing much about what it will entail or where it will lead. In reflecting on this, Kathleen Norris has written: “I treasure the story because it forces me to ask: When the mystery of God’s love breaks through into my consciousness, do I run from it? Do I ask of it what it cannot answer? Shrugging, do I retreat into facile clichés, the popular but false wisdom of what “we all know”? Or am I virgin enough to respond from my deepest truest self, and say something new, a “yes” that will change me forever?” (“The Annunciation” from Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith).
Note: The Solemnity of the Annunciation is usually celebrated on March 25, nine months before Christmas Day. It was transferred this year because of the dates of Holy Week and the Octave of Easter.
This reflection was taken from my book, From Season to Season: A Book of Saintly Wisdom.

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