S+L logo

Because Mary said "Yes..." — A Reflection for the Solemnity of the Annunciation of our Lord

March 25, 2011
Standing in the middle of the present day city of Nazareth is the mammoth Basilica of the Annunciation, built around what is believed to be the dwelling of Mary. In a grotto-like room at the heart of the basilica is a small inscription on an altar. It reads, "verbum caro hic factum est," here the Word became flesh. There, it is believed, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, and her response changed the world forever.
Imagine yourself in Mary's place, asked to say "yes" to a divine plan so vast, so profound and so seemingly impossible that you cannot comprehend it. "How can this be?" she asks, bewildered. She is rooted in the faith of her ancestors, and yet now an angel has appeared in the midst of everyday life, extending a startling invitation. "You have found favor with God," the angel says, "and you will conceive and bear His Son." Will she accept?
It is Mary above all others who can teach us what it means to live by faith, and how to respond when God's providence disrupts the daily course of our lives, overturning its rhythms and expectations. Despite her fears and uncertainty over how this promise could be fulfilled, she still answered "Yes." Are we able to respond to God this way?
When we reflect on the Annunciation to Mary, and her acceptance of the angel's message, we also reflect on our own vocation -- our own calling from God. In the Lord's Prayer, we pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" -- an echo of Mary's "Be it done unto me according to your word." Each time we commit ourselves to embracing God's call and accepting His will, we mark a new point on the path of our relationship with Him. For the rest of her life, Mary pondered her extraordinary encounter with God, turning the weight of the angel's message over and over again in her heart. From the manger to the cross, Mary's life was radically changed -- her relationship with God profoundly deepened -- the moment she said "Yes."
Mary received and welcomed God's Word in the fullest sense -- becoming impregnated with it, and bearing it to the world. Angels might not appear in our doorsteps, but we do encounter God in each of our daily prayers, and he whispers to us a similar invitation: Will we accept His love and bring it joyously to those around us? Will we trust in His providence, even when we can't see the path ahead? Amid the noise of everyday life, will we listen for and embrace his call?
When making his pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Annunciation, Pope Benedict XVI offered this prayer to the humble Virgin of Nazareth. It speaks for all of us who likewise seek to accept God's will with joy:
Mary, Mother of the "Yes," you listened to Jesus, and know the tone of his voice and the beating of his heart. Morning Star, speak to us of him, and tell us about your journey of following him on the path of faith.
A question for today:
When have I felt that God was calling me to something greater than myself? When have I succeeded, and when have I failed, in accepting His will? What was the outcome of those situations?

Related posts

Christ and the Priesthood
FacebookTwitter
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – October 21st, 2018 The readings for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time of Cycle B invite us to prayerfully consider the priesthood and priestly minis ...read more
How to Inherit Eternal Life
FacebookTwitter
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – October 14th, 2018 Mark’s Gospel story of Jesus’ encounter with the man seeking eternal life is essentially a vocation story (Mark 10: ...read more
Read this reflection from Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, on the transformative qualities of a shared meal, as portrayed in the classic film, Babette's Feast. ...read more
Marriage and the Family: Humanity’s Future
FacebookTwitter
Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – October 7th, 2018 Rather than commenting in detail on each of the readings for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), I would like to offer some g ...read more
A Smile upon Humanity for 33 Days
FacebookTwitter
Read this reflection on the papacy of Pope John Paul I and the homily given by Cardinal Ratzinger at his memorial Mass in Munich. ...read more