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Published: April 08 2013
Today we celebrate the transferred feast of the Annunciation and we commemorate the death of St. Julie Billiart. This reflection begins a little before today's Gospel text, with the annunciation to Zechariah, and focuses on the role of Gabriel, the messenger. "I am Gabriel, who stand in attendance before God. I was sent to speak to you and bring you the Good News." (Luke 1:19) The same Gabriel carried the announcement of the Incarnation to Mary, and even when on a mission, stands in the presence of God. Gabriel is the first evangelizer, the first to carry and share the Good News. Gabriel delivers the message to Mary, who will also carry, in a very intimate way, and share the Good News Incarnate, all the while, "standing in attendance before God." Although we do not know much about Mary's sense of the presence of God in her daily life before the visit of Gabriel, after that moment she never left God's presence. For us too, awareness of God's presence is so much easier since the Lord came to be one with us in the Incarnation. We can now say that God stands with us.
Perhaps neither Gabriel nor Mary fully grasped the profound importance of their service as messengers. We perhaps give too much importance to our service of sharing the Good News and not enough to "standing in attendance before God." St. Julie, whose earthly message-sharing ended with her death, remembered today on April 8, expressed this correlation as "rapture of action." The Sisters, she believed, had a unique vocation--to carry out their messenger service while standing in the presence of the Lord. This contemplation in action, "rapture of action," by renewing at each moment in our active lives the sense of God’s presence, is important for all who want to be authentic messengers of the Good News.
Let us thank our archangel, brother Gabriel, our mother Mary and St. Julie for bringing us the announcement, the Good News of the Goodness of God who comes to stand with us so that we may always be "in attendance on God."