Isaiah 7:10-14; Hebrews 10:4-10; Luke 1:26-38
Lent is a great season of grace; a great season of faith. Today’s readings, on this Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord, speak to us of grace and of faith. Mary was graced by God’s spirit and as such participated in the life of God. Grace for each of us is “favor,” the free and underserved help that God gives to us as we respond to God’s call to become children of God and partakers of eternal life. Grace hovers throughout this reflection, as grace hovers throughout your life experiences.
The readings ooze faith; hence faith is the focus. The new testament is filled with “blind leaps of faith:” the centurion at the death of Jesus, the women with hemorrhages, Thomas with his doubts, or Paul on the road to Damascus, to mention but a few.
All of these are instances of profound acts of faith made to God, in the person of Jesus.
All had his words to listen to, his deeds to observe, and his way to follow. All of these had in Jesus a tangible object of faith, witness and discipleship. Not so Mary!
Today’s familiar passage from Luke finds Mary without a Jesus figure; Mary at a time before God manifested himself in human form. Mary’s faith was in the God of the Hebrew scripture; Mary's was a faith in God’s promise. Mary believed the words of the prophets. She reflected in her own heart the words of Isaiah: the Lord will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall call him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”
Three brief reflections:
· God found Mary where she was: in her room or garden, during her daily routine or daydreaming. Just so, God will find you in your own space or place, doing your thing. Will you have the eyes of faith to see God manifested in the people, places and events around you? Will you have the ears of faith to hear God in the words of scripture or in the cries of the poor? Will you have the heart of faith to reach out to others?
Mary’s reaction to the angel’s invitation to be the mother of God was disbelief: “How can this be…?” She did not want this. She wanted a simple life, a quiet life with Joseph, possibly a family, the routine of a small familiar village, and daily gossip around the local well. In the face of this new circumstance Mary was tentative, reluctant, fearful.
Sound familiar? So each of us has our tentativeness, reluctance, and fears—spoken and unspoken; we have our concerns about war and peace, about economics and financial wellness; about family, relationships, employment and health. But these fears and concerns cannot paralyze us; we have to have faith that our God is a caring God, a God of covenant and of faithfulness. A God who tells us: “Do not be afraid, you have found favor with God.”
· Yes, belief and trust in a God Mary could not see, begs each of us to respond with a much stronger faith to a God we can experience in the person of Jesus. Because we know the story, we can respond to the call to be “graced” by God, “favored” by God as we desire to accept his invitation to become the house of God, the presence and the touch of God in our own circumstance.
Yes, even amidst the drums of war, each of us can be a witness to the “annunciation of the Lord” in our midst. For we remember: “Nothing is impossible with God!”
By John Schlegel