One of the great blessings of our Catholic faith is the richness of the liturgy, which brings into our lives again and again the holy people, days and feasts for us to ponder and experience. Each time a feast day comes again, we have an opportunity to see something more, to learn something new, and to experience the presence of God in our lives more deeply. Today we ponder once again the amazing moment of the Annunciation of the angel to Mary. It is the moment of the new beginning of the life of God in her womb and in the world.
Our familiarity with the Gospel account may dull our awareness of how profound Mary’s decision was. Her extraordinary faith stands out in her willingness to accept what the angel was telling her and, despite her fear and uncertainty, say “yes” to God. Like Mary, we usually do not have a clear view of what is ahead when we face moments of decision. But every decision, whether ordinary or extraordinary, is an annunciation moment for us, an opportunity to say “yes” to God. Mary shows us how to offer a courageous “yes,” no matter how impossible the circumstances may appear.
Mary was asked to bring Jesus into the world, and we are asked to bring him into the world as well, through our thoughts, actions, conversations, choices, attitudes, generosity, forgiveness. But it all begins with being willing to give God our “yes” in each aspect of our life. Trust in the Lord is not a one-time accomplishment but a way of life. As we mature in faith, the prayer we pray every day, the one that never fails, bears more and more fruit: “Thy will be done.” Each time we accept God’s will in our present circumstances, we open the door a little wider to let God into our heart and surrender more of our life to him.
In the first reading, we see someone who is not willing to give God a “yes.” God tells King Ahaz that he can ask for a sign, but Ahaz rejects the offer. We are left to ponder why Ahaz refuses the Lord, who is ready to show him a sign “deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!” It seems Ahaz is being not only foolish but ungrateful. Yet, this is the very same foolishness and ingratitude we practice whenever we refuse God’s desire to come into our life. When we do not want God to get too close, or when we are afraid he will disrupt our plans, when we question what more he will ask of us or what we might have to change – then we are “wearying our God” with our lack of faith and our refusal to accept his goodness.
The response of the prophet Isaiah gives us reassurance. He tells Ahaz that even if he will not accept God’s offer, God will give him a sign anyway: the conception of a virgin and the birth of her son who will be named Emmanuel: “God is with us!” The fulfillment of this prophetic sign is what we celebrate today. Through the “yes” of Mary, the Word of God becomes flesh; God is with us!
However, there is another “yes” at work in our redemption, Jesus’ “yes” to the eternal will of the Father. His whole life is an expression of the message we read in today’s second reading: “Behold, I come to do your will, O God.” It was impossible for the sacrifices under the Old Covenant, “the blood of bulls and goats,” to take away sins. The only sacrifice sufficient for our redemption is that of God himself who became man. The whole divine plan of salvation hinges on the Incarnation. Through Mary’s “yes” to God, the Incarnation is accomplished; the Word becomes flesh. Through Jesus’ “yes” to the Father, the Redemption is accomplished; the Word suffers, dies and rises again. Through our “yes” to God, Jesus comes alive in us. Today we are being invited to follow the example of the Blessed Mother’s whole-hearted faith, and to unite our hearts and voices to say, “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.”
When do I find it difficult to trust in God? How can I respond with a wholehearted “yes” to his will?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 15, no. 3. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.