The Annunciation – Mary’s Yes
This year we celebrate the Annunciation during the Easter season and so have the opportunity to be with Mary who like Jesus does the will of the Father. As a mother she will suffer with of her son in his Passion. She will share uniquely his redemptive suffering in his passover from death to the victory of the cross. In our Easter celebration we do not forget the Passion of Our Lord. It is the love story. Today invites us to enter the ‘love story’ as we hear Mary’s ‘Yes’. To stand with Mary as sons and daughters at the cross, comforting her by our love and finding comfort as she shares with us the mystery of God’s love given to her.
There are dozens of beautiful pictures of the Annunciation on line, both modern and classics. The one I was looking for is entitled ‘The Long Loneliness’. It is by Fritz Eichenberg whose wood engravings graced the Catholic Worker newspaper. Mary is seated, resting, leaning backward, her eyes closed. One hand rests upon, the other below, her full and round stomach that shows her to be well advanced in her pregnancy. Whispering in her ear while hovering above her is Gabriel. In the space between Mary and the angel the three crosses on Calvary are seen in the distance, a small, winding road leads from where Mary rests to the Crosses, and at her feet a flower blooms. Finally, in the upper corner, set off in a circle of white is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit hovers above the Cross and at the same times its rays touch Mary and the child growing within her.
The artist has blended the mystery of Mary’s Annunciation ‘yes’ with her sharing in the Passion of her Son. The angel who delicately whispers into her ear may well have continued to do so as she listened to the Word of her Son in the days of his ministry? The picture captures it all. It is a visual meditation worth finding on the internet.
Jesus in the Passion does the will of the Father. He gives glory to the Father and is glorified by the Father. Mary also makes her will one with the Father. We try to do what Our Lord and Mary do, to know the Father’s will and to make it ours.
As Mary takes her place by the Cross we see first her sorrow as a mother who shares the suffering of her son. Every mother must feel the depth of what this mother suffers.
Mary suffers also because she knows God is at work in the child she gave birth to. To onlookers the crucifixion was the execution it was supposed to be. But to Mary there must have been sorrow as God’s love was was being crucified, Jesus was being rejected. His suffering and death would be for our redemption. Doing the Father’s will would lead us to the Father’s love. Mary suffered this mystery with her son.
The Annunciation will lead Mary to be a Mother of Sorrows. But the seed that she nurtures is the flowering of hope and the victory of love. We need to stand with our Mother and ask her to help us to say yes to God’s will, and to lead us into this mystery that she knows uniquely. Today we can stand with her on Calvary again, it is the time of victory. We who come to comfort are comforted by her, we rejoice and have hope.
Fr. William Murphy, CP is the pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Jamaica, New York.