Solemnity of the Annunciation
Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10
Years ago, filled with doubt and trepidation, I readied myself to embark on a major new challenge. A good and wise friend said to me in response to my uncertainty, "You know what you’re doing. You just don’t know what you’re getting into."
Today is one of the great feasts of the liturgical year. The story of the Annunciation has been told and retold by the great masters of art throughout the ages. A young girl is visited by an angel who tells her she is to conceive and bear a child, the Son of God. She, of course, does not have the full knowledge of events yet to come as we do. We can sit here with the advantage of time to say to Mary, "Go for it…it will all work out."
This feast of the Annunciation falls this year just after Holy Week. That might help put into perspective Mary’s fiat, her "May it be done to me according to your word." To what is she saying yes? She knows there is risk for scandal ("I have no relations with a man."). She knows the ordinary demands of motherhood. And she knows that God is faithful. So, knowing all this, Mary knew what she was doing. But she certainly did not know what she was getting into.
The death of my brother when he was only 22 years old was heart-wrenching. Great as that pain was – and is – it pales compared to my mother’s. The horror of a mother losing a son to war, violence, disease or accident is a loss so deep that really only other mothers can know it. Yet here we are on this feast contemplating Mary’s yes knowing that Good Friday brought her immense pain as she watched her son suffer and die. We are forced to see the connection between saying yes to God and where that yes may take us.
The yes we give to God takes us not just to the cross, but through that brokenness and loss to new life. But simply because we know where our yes to God will take us ultimately – we know what we’re doing – it doesn’t mean we know what we’re getting ourselves into. That journey of faith that continues with our saying yes today will certainly challenge us along the way to new life.
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and is the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.