Posted by: liturgicalyear | March 26, 2010

The power of Yes

Yesterday we celebrated the Feast of the Annunciation, the incarnation of Jesus Christ in the womb of Mary.   We celebrated two great acts of love and humility – the invitation & the response, the overshadowing & the conception, the work of God & the work of man, the Word of God & the word of woman:  Yes.

I found it ironic that here we are in the middle of Lent, a season which is so full of remembrance of suffering and eventual crucifixion, & all of a sudden we have one of the most beautiful feast days of the year:  we stop to remember Christ’s incarnation. 

She said, “Yes.”  We know the story well…  The angel Gabriel appears to Mary to announce that she has been chosen by God to bear His Son.  She ultimately replies, “Be it done unto me according to your word.” 

Note, though, the first thing Gabriel says is, “Do not be afraid, Mary.”  The angel, as God’s messenger, recognizes our natural inclination towards fear of that which we do not understand.   The angel announces God’s plan.  Mary does question the plan, “But how can this be…” (Lk 1:34)  but she decides for love over fear and says, “Yes.”  Her “Yes” gave us Jesus.

He said, “Yes.”  In just one week we will celebrate Good Friday, the most sorrowful day of the liturgical year.  We know the story well…  Jesus went out to the Garden of Gethsemane with his apostles.  He was alone in prayer when, knowing God’s plan, he questioned, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me…”  nonetheless he declares, “…not my will, but yours be done.” (Mt 26:39)   Then “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.”  (Lk 22:43)  Jesus questions the plan, but decides for love over fear, and says, “Yes.”  His “Yes” gave us everlasting life. 

 “Fear is useless, what is needed is trust.”  (Mk 5:36)  Knowing and doing God’s will is sometimes really hard. It takes great faith & trust.  Mary trusted God, saying yes, even though she didn’t understand.  Jesus trusted His Father, even though, in his humanity, he didn’t want to face it.  Both acts of love & humility bore great fruit.  Just as Mary’s yes & Jesus’ yes bore great fruit, our yes bears fruit. Saying “Yes” to God’s will is always life giving. 

 As we approach Holy Week, let us pray to the Holy Spirit to trust like Mary and to sacrifice like Jesus, to perfect our love so as to cast out all fear, to help us to grow in trust, and to strengthen us to choose love & humility. 

Heavenly Harmony, songs for the day:  These songs are usually associated with Advent because they speak of Mary’s role in the coming of Jesus.  Mary’s role in the birth of Jesus is inexorably linked to her role in the death of Jesus, and ultimately to our salvation.  I invite you to hear these words again with a view of Good Friday in your mind, heart, and prayer.  Immanuel, God with us & Mary did you know?    Totus Tuus!

Prayer encouragement:  For the next week, pray the Angelus at noontime, remembering the incarnation as we approach the crucifixion.  Walk this week with the woman given to us all on Good Friday, our mother, Mary.

The Angelus by Jean Francois Millet

The Angelus

V:  The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary: 

R:  And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. 

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. 

V:  Behold the handmaid of the Lord:

R:  Be it done unto me according to Thy word. 

Hail Mary . .

V:  And the Word was made Flesh:

R:  And dwelt among us. 

Hail Mary . . . 

V:  Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,

R:  …that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. 

Let us pray: 

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.


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