The Annunciation of the Lord
Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10
Here I am Lord; I come to do your will!
Two weeks ago, on March 14, I did funeral of 17 year old Sandra, who died of cancer. She was bright, full of life and wanted to be a surgeon. It was indeed a devastating time for the family. I went to meet the family on Wednesday to talk about their daughter and also about the funeral service on Friday. The extended family had gathered at their grandparents’ house for dinner. After dinner a birthday cake was brought to the table and the whole family sang Happy Birthday to little Raymond who was celebrating his birthday!
As we journey through the Lent, with prayer, fasting, abstinence and almsgiving, the church today stops to celebrate! When we started out on Ash Wednesday we were, perhaps, reminded of the goal of the Lenten journey: the foot of the Cross. On this solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, the church reminds us that this journey to the foot of the cross began when Mary said "Yes" to the Angel. That she is our companion on the journey.
As young as she was, the words of the Angel took her by surprise! What? Really? You must be kidding! How can this be possible? The whole world around this young girl suddenly seemed to stop. She was very much aware of the social and religious repercussions. And even as Mary threw questions at the Angel, we see Gabriel being very patient with her. She doesn’t accept what is said in blind faith. She reasons with the Angel. There was much fear. And yet at the end she makes an ‘act of faith’ – "May it done to me according to your word!" Jesus would eventually make a similar act of faith in the garden of Gethsemane: Not my will, but yours be done. Luke tells us that he sweated blood just thinking of what was to come. (Cf. Lk 22:44)
Life often catches us by surprises! When everything seems to be going on just fine, there is this ‘news’. We are rattled…unsettled in our comfort zones. Ordinarily, we do not have such clear, face-to-face dialogues with an angel, of course. God’s message to us more often comes through the circumstances and events of everyday life. All the same, we have questions. We wonder what’s going on. We would like some answers, and like young Mary we should not hesitate to ask our questions before we make her words our own: "May it done to me according to your word!"
The family of Sandra had questions. I am sure in all faith and trust they may have put those questions to God; and yet when they made that ‘act of faith’ they could celebrate the life of Raymond, even as they grieved the death of another child in the family! I read a post on Face Book some time ago: God’s will is our will, minus our selfishness. How true is that!
Fr. Bruno D’Souza, CP, is on the staff at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.