December 20th, 2004
Tom Bannantine, S.J.
Chaplain, School of Nursing
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St. Luke focuses our attention on the Blessed Virgin Mary in his beautiful
account of the Annunciation. This is our first meeting with Mary in
the gospel story. The scene lends itself well to our imagination.
We see a young woman, a girl really, in the home in Nazareth where she lived
with her parents Joachim and Ann. The angel Gabriel suddenly appears
and his greeting troubles Mary because she does not understand it.
The angel’s words of reassurance do not completely overcome her confusion.
But the thing that impresses me most about this story is that Mary agrees
to cooperate with God even though she could have said no. Mary was
a human being with free will just like all of us. She could have responded
either yes or no on this occasion. We know that God would never coerce
her into accepting his will. Mary could have told the angel to find
someone else. She could have said that she was unable to do what
was asked of her. She could have pleaded her youth and lack of understanding.
She could have said no to God. But such was not Mary’s response.
Instead she uttered her fiat. She declared herself the handmaid
of the Lord and asked that all would happen to her just as the angel had
foretold. And she said this willingly and voluntarily.
Mary’s words are a powerful manifestation of her faith. She did not
completely understand how all of this would happen, and she couldn’t comprehend
how powerfully her words would affect future generations, nevertheless she
willingly consented to her very important role in the history of salvation.
Mary, at the time of the Annunciation was not yet the woman of some 30 years
later who stood by the cross of her crucified son. But even at her
young age Mary at the time of the Annunciation manifested a remarkable faith
and trust in God.
In reflecting on Mary’s Annunciation it seems to me that the young Mary is
very good role model for us to imitate in regard to faith. Like Mary,
many of us do not understand some of the things that happen to us in our
lives. We don’t always understand God’s role in our lives and his plan
for us. We have questions and no answers. But it is precisely
at times like these that we can draw inspiration from and try to imitate
Mary. In spite of her confusion and lack of understanding Mary had
the faith and trust in God to agree to what was asked of her. We can
see Mary as our role model. Like her we can have faith and trust in
God in our lives, especially at those times when things happen that we don’t
understand or can’t make sense of. Sometimes in very difficult circumstances
faith and trust in God is all that keeps us going. At such times the
young Mary can be a powerful role model for us. We can strive to imitate
in our lives the faith and trust in God that Mary showed at the Annunciation.
We can do that by asking Mary to help us. She can help us by interceding
with her divine son for us and for our needs. Here I am reminded of
a short ejaculation I learned long ago: “O Mary conceived without sin,
pray for us who have recourse to you.”
to the writer of this reflection.
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