Monday, August 15, 2011

Meditation on Luke 1:26-38 - The Annunciation

A while ago I was at a workshop for Lectio Divina or the prayer for reading of Sacred Scripture and one of the scriptures they had us practice on was Luke 1:26-38, the Annunciation.  As I was reading the passage and reflecting on it, I realized just how much of an amazing and yet fearful moment that had to be.  How would you act if an angel visited you with a message from God?  What would your response be?  I would like to think my response would be that of Mary’s. 

"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.  And he came to her and said, "Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.  And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end."  And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?"   And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.  And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.  For with God nothing will be impossible."  And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her."  Luke 1:26-38

There are such profound phrases that are said by both the Angel and Mary.  “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High.” (Lk. 1:32)  I fall silent at this verse, how must it have felt to hear those words?  Not only are you a virgin and you will bear a son but He will be the Son of the Most High…“His kingdom will have no end.”  Words fail you at this moment and this great pronouncement, how long I wonder was there a pause by Mary as she digested this information just given to her.  I cannot even imagine what might have gone through her mind; I would be thinking what is going on here.  Her simple response, wait a minute how can this be since I have no husband?
After this question another profound revelation is given.  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Lk. 1:34)  How beautiful, words cannot describe how this must have felt.  However when you think about it, the Holy Spirit is with all of us.  We receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when we receive the Sacraments.  How great of a gift this is that I take for granted every day.  The Holy Spirit overshadows all we do, provides help for us in all that we do, all we need to do is ask.  How great a gift that is taken for granted by so many today. 
Many times we try to limit God, fit Him into our mold, and bring God down to a more manageable level.  But in the Annunciation we hear the simple words, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Lk. 1:37)  How many people think that God can’t help them, that they are too far gone, there is nothing that can be done for them.  To that I give them the above statement, God can work with anyone, about anything, anytime He wants.  God is God and there is no limit to His love for us.  God is love, an eternal communication of persons in love.  Nothing is beyond God.  I feel like we should hear this statement at the start of every day.  When we feel as though our daily struggles are insurmountable, the daily grind impossible, thinking that how can God be in this, we must think those words, that nothing is impossible for God.  God can top every mountain, cross every river and support your feet as you walk His path on earth.
Lastly, some of the simplest words ever spoken are the most earth shattering, words that should be the first out of our mouth every day in prayer.  “And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."” (Lk. 1:38)  With these words “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” (Jn 1:14)  With the Incarnation the world changed forever, God reached down to.  We became “partakers in the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:4)  “God became man so man could become God.” (St. Athanasius)  The world has been changed forever with those simple words.
I would like to think that my reaction would have been the same, that at that moment my words would have been the same Mary’s.  I pray that through the intercession of Mary on this the Feast of her Assumption into heaven that I become more like her, the perfect disciple who was there at the moment of conception at the moment of His crucifixion.  Let us also pray for the respect of life from conception to natural death.

Father in heaven,
all creation rightly gives you praise,
for all life and all holiness come from you.
In the plan of your wisdom
she who bore the Christ in her womb
was raised body and soul in glory to be with him in heaven.
May we follow her example in reflecting your holiness
and join in her hymn of endless love and praise.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


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