The Annunciation of the Lord
As children we often recited the “Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary” during May and October. Although I didn’t always understand what the titles or epithets for Our Lady meant, I was intrigued by phrases like “Seat of Wisdom, Star of the Sea, Cause of our Joy, or Refuge of Sinners.” “Tower of Ivory” and “House of Gold,” however, had me muddled!
Today’s readings invite us to ponder yet another attribute of Mary. Yes, she is the “Arc of the Covenant” and “Mystical Rose,” but today Mary is Theotokos, she who said a total “Yes” to God! I have always reverenced how Mary agreed to something she didn’t understand. When she questions the angel within the mystery of Annunciation, how this might happen — embracing motherhood without being in relationship — Gabriel responds that God will overshadow her.
As a good Jewess, Mary understood the “cloudy” or overshadowing ways God works. When Moses sought to see God “face to face,” for example, God responds, “No,” because the intensity of divine presence would sear Moses’ imagination. Moses could not see God and live. So Mary says “Yes” to a power, a hope, a potentiality that she couldn’t even imagine!
How often it seems that God is working in cloudy, overshadowing ways! Why do so many people resist the reality of global warming? Why does economic disparity continue to increase globally? How can such violence continue within gangs and drug lords?
Gate of Heaven, pray for us!
Fr. Jack Conley, C.P. is a member of the Passionist formation community at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.