The Annunciation

The Annunciation by Fra Angelico (c. 1450)

The Annunciation by Fra Angelico (c. 1450)

This Saturday, 25 March, is the Feast of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel comes to Mary to tell her of God's intention that she should bear the Son of God for the world. The event is portrayed in countless paintings and musical compositions, including one of my absolute favorites, "Gabriel's Message."

Mary's response to this startling request is, thankfully, "Yes," or "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." One wonders how the story of salvation would have proceeded had Mary's reply been different. The Gospel narratives give us little insight into what she was thinking at the time, only that she was "much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be." That might be one of the great understatements of the New Testament.

Regardless of what she really did think, Mary's "Yes" becomes a powerful witness to our part in God's plan for creation. God invites us in as active participants in the plan of salvation, even if that invitation now mostly comes in far less dramatic forms than it did for Mary. Like Mary, we have a choice to make each time - yes or no - and if the story of the Annunciation shows us anything, it's that saying yes to God may mean we are in for quite a ride. Saying yes means allowing our lives to follow God's plan for us, not our plan for ourselves. That can be a scary proposition, but if our stories show us anything, it's that we can and do often make a mess of of things when we relentlessly pursue our own selfish goals, when we "follow too much the devices and desires of our own hearts."

"Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word," - perhaps not the easiest choice, but always the best one.