April 9, 2018
by Edward Morse
Creighton University's Law School
click here for photo and information about the writer

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
Lectionary: 545

Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10
Psalms 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 11
Hebrews 10:4-10
Luke 1:26-38

Celebrating Easter

Easter Prayer for Today


Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Annunciation of our Lord.  While it is a little less than nine months before our celebration of the Lord’s birth, the time frame is reasonably close.  After all, babies come when they come, not always according to schedule!

The reading in Isaiah reflects a prophet’s delivery of an enigmatic prediction about a virgin bearing a son, Emmanuel (God with us).  This sign could only be significant if virgin does not conceive in the ordinary way.  Otherwise, it would merely reflect what happened in most marriages, albeit without some important details!

Today’s gospel provides the familiar story of Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel, who announces the coming birth of Jesus and his special means of conception.   Although most of us have heard this story time and time again, something new is waiting for us to discover.  As we read and ponder scripture, it is capable of delivering new meaning for each of us in this place, at this time.  Scripture is meant to break into our familiar existence with unfamiliar ideas that spur us on to new understanding and refresh our relationship with our Lord.  I think Mary’s story has that capacity for each of us.

Do you find it inspiring that an Angel sent from Heaven knew all about Mary and called her by name?  Knowing and being known are such important dimensions of our human relationships, where at best a handful of close friends and family may somehow understand us.  What would we make of an Angel sent by God with this kind of understanding?

Consider also the curious mystery that is being revealed to Mary.  She is to become the Theotokos, the God-bearer, the Mother of God; her son would indeed be God with us, as Isaiah had prophesied centuries before.   Surely Mary did not understand all of the details.  She asked only the most obvious question -- how this child-bearing condition would happen when she had no husband.  But the explanation was incomplete, to say the least.  She did not pepper the Angel with questions about the details, including the complications that this would create in her life.  She did not ask about how she would deal with the awkwardness it would inject into her relationship with Joseph, or the difficult explanations that may be required for others among her family and neighbors.  However, she was given the consolation of her relative, Elizabeth, who could help her with this strange new revelation.  Isn’t it amazing how one good friend can help us deal with all kinds of difficulty? 

Instead of focusing on her rights, her interests, or her own discomfort, Mary offered herself wholly to the Lord.  The concept of a handmaid was familiar to her, as servant/slave status was a common feature of life in this era.  Yet she embraced that status, placing herself in a position to receive whatever the Lord would send her way, instead of preferring her own way instead.

As I have journeyed in my Catholic faith, I have grown closer to Mary.  I am attracted to her gentle yet powerful commitment to our Lord, which begins here at the annunciation yet continues throughout Jesus’ life, even unto his death on the cross.  I do not always follow that example, but her faith and devotion become a source for faith and devotion in us, too.

Lord, help our unbelief.  You alone know and understand us, including our weaknesses; we can trust you with our faults.  Blessed Mary, pray for us to overcome those weaknesses and to follow your example.  Thanks be to God.

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