Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
After years of teaching the Catholic faith, a religious sister emphasized not only the importance of communicating intellectual knowledge of the faith but also teaching people how to pray. Her experience was that she could help others grow in their knowledge of the faith, but it often did not have as strong of an effect if the student was not deepening his or her relationship with Christ through prayer.
Our prayers do not change God, but prayer changes us to be more receptive to God’s plan. One of the challenges we experience in prayer is reconciling the difference between God’s plan and God’s time, and our own plan or expectations. St. Paul wrote, “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption.” The Annunciation begins this “fullness of time,” a time of fulfillment of God’s promises and preparations. God, in His supreme goodness and wisdom, desired to affect the redemption of the world by sending His Son, born of a woman. God had a plan all along.
Despite the specifics and certitude that we often want in prayer, Mary did not require a detailed plan or even the assurance of success—Mary simply offered her response of cooperation to God’s plan: “May it be done to me according to your word.” Mary uttered this “yes” in faith—she entrusted herself to God without reserve and “devoted herself totally as the handmaid of the Lord.” Mary was willing to let her life be changed, in fact, she welcomed the change as she freely and actively embraces God’s invitation to bear the Messiah. Hers is more than mere passive acceptance, rather the text indicates that she wishes or desires to fulfill God’s will in her life. Let’s learn from Mary what it means to respond to God or to situations in our life. It is precisely in times of uncertainty that we need to “go to Mary” praying the Rosary and calling upon her intercession that we might have a receptive heart like hers. In the Blessed Virgin Mary, we will find a Refuge of Sinners, a compassionate and tender Mother, and an example of what it means to welcome the Word of Life.
Reflection Question: With the Blessed Virgin Mary, how can you offer your “yes” to God this day?
Reflection by Fr. Paul Sheller, OSB