the annunciation – saying yes and living it

annunciation - fra angelico
annunciation – fra angelico

March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation. It is a day to look to Mary and ponder her Yes to God. And, what a Yes it was. Pregnancy and birth is seldom easy. An “unexplained” pregnancy for an unmarried girl carried the death sentence of stoning. Mary felt fear yet allowed her fears to be calmed by God’s promise. She did not fully comprehend, but who could? All she had at her disposal was her faith. If she was saying Yes to God, then certainly all would be well.

We often image Mary as the gentle hand-maiden meekly acquiesing to God’s will. Yet, her Yes did not come from cowering fear or blind obedience. She questioned and discerned and only then freely agreed to God’s will. This is what makes her blessed. God could have used her without her consent, but then she would have simply been a human vessel. Instead, she fully cooperated with God and became an active agent in God’s plan.

It takes courage to say Yes to the unknown. It takes even greater courage to reaffirm that same Yes when the unknowns are replaced with difficult or unexpected realities. Our Yes’s are easily forgotten in the face of suffering. The certainty of dreams and visions of goodness and glory vanish quickly when we struggle to seek God’s hand in the midst of darkness and evil.

Mary’s Yes led her to an uncomfortable birth far from home. She faced the hardships and fears of a refugee in Egypt. She felt the gut-wrenching trauma of every parent when they think their child is lost. Mary did not fully understand her son’s ministry and must have feared for his safety. How could she understand the horrors of his death?She said Yes at the annunciation and she continued to say Yes throughout her life.

In these times of Yes’s too easily retracted, of commitments too easily broken, Mary is a model of faith for us all.




4 thoughts on “the annunciation – saying yes and living it

  1. Very beautifully expressed, in describing Mary’s act of faith; Mary’s “yes” to God. Very beautifully put!

    I think Mary’s ‘yes’ had to be inseparable from her living out of the ‘first’ commandment of her Jewish faith:

    “Hear, O Israel!
    The Lord our God is Lord alone!
    You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
    The second is this:
    You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
    There is no other commandment greater than these.”

    Furthermore, can there be any doubt that Jesus learned this commandment from His mother, from her mouth and from her example?

    Knowing who she was – a young Jewish girl, living in an insignificant town in the backwaters of civilization; one of the ordinary people living out the routine and drudgery of daily life – one with the ‘people’- Mary’s yes moves from her complete surprise to uncontainable joy overflowing into “My soul magnifies The Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my saviour. The Almighty has done great things for me and holy is His name.” It appears that God’s ‘yes’ is to the ordinary, routine and hum drum of daily existence of ordinary people – this is where Mary was at the Annunciation and this where Jesus spent 30 years of His life undoubtedly learning from Mary the virtues that He carried into His ministry. God willed it that way.

    Thank you for your beautiful meditation on the Annunciation – it is inspiring.

    1. And thank you for your inspiring meditation, also, Paul. It is a beautiful reminder that we are all called to those daily “yes’s” in our life, in the ordinary as well as the extraordinary moments. Thank you!

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