Thursday, March 25, 2010

The annunciation

Today is the feast of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel came to ask Mary to become the Mother of God. And how did Mary respond? Once she clearly understood what God was asking of her, Mary responded with faith. She immediately offered herself to the Lord. She wanted to cooperate with her whole being, her entire self. Mary’s reply, “Let it be done unto me,” expresses not just a half-hearted “all right,” but a wholehearted, “Yes, Lord! I want to do this. Send me!” Luke’s text itself indicates this, for he uses here a verb form that expresses an enthusiastic willingness, a readiness for action. Mary’s acceptance shows us the joy of giving ourselves wholeheartedly to God.

Mary’s “yes” at the Annunciation was a different kind of yes than the one Jesus said to his Father during the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. That was a yes said amid great suffering. Days of suffering come into all of our lives. And Mary too said another yes, a painful yes, as she stood at the foot of the cross on Calvary. But throughout our whole Christian life, joys and sorrows mingle. The angel’s words and Mary’s example at the Annunciation remind us that at the very deepest level, we can find happiness by accepting and acting on God’s word. Mother Thecla Merlo, the co-foundress of the Daughters of Saint Paul, put it well when she said, “Even if you cannot always be joyful, you can always be at peace.”

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