Gospel Reflections

Feast of the Annunciation

Luke 1:26-38

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Virginia Scally

Published: March 25, 2015

The Feast of the Annunciation has been a significant feast day for me for many years. My mother so wanted me to be born on March 25. Of course, I was not born on this date! I used to joke with her about doing things my way from the very beginning: I was born at 11:00 pm on March 24. I was named for and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, however, regardless of when I came. Thus, the origin of my name: Virginia Marie. This sharing of my history shows the reason for years of personal reflection on this Feast of the Annunciation!

So, it came as a surprise to me to find many resources I found this year, referred to this day as a Feast of the Lord, but not necessarily of Mary. And the other observation that struck me is the real possibility that Mary herself, a young girl of about 13 or 14 years of age, did not grasp the true identity of her son! At least, she probably did not understand his identity at the time of the Annunciation, and perhaps for some years later.

St. Luke gives his name as “Jesus,” in Hebrew, “God saves” and refers to him as the “Son of the Most High.” Luke continues: “He will be called holy, the Son of God,” but none of those titles in 1st century Judaism necessarily meant that he was “divine.” Indeed, it took the earliest disciples until the late 90’s with the writing of John’s Gospel, to proclaim publicly their belief that Jesus of Nazareth was God and that “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us!” One writer affirmed that it took decades and even centuries for the “Church” to understand the true nature of Jesus: Jesus is truly God. The first formal proclamation came together only in 325 AD, with the First General Council of the Church in Nicea.

But this reflection as it refers to Mary and to what she understood or did not understand at the time of the Angel’s visitation reminds me of our own lives and the gradual revelation of God’s mysterious ways that sometimes are not made clear in our lives for years as well. As we look back on our lives, sometimes there are experiences of joy as well as experiences of suffering that we still do not understand. In some instances, we have not yet been able to understand the “why” of these experiences or their meaning. Perhaps that is the way it is supposed to be for us now. Perhaps that should not be a problem for us and we will know with clarity when the time is right.

Mary gives an example of simply allowing the Lord to do whatever he wishes, “according to your word.”  Julian of Norwich assures us that “all will be well.” The poet, Rilke, encourages us to “be patient with all that is unsolved in our hearts.”  Pierre Teilhard de Chardin encourages us to “above all, trust in the slow work of God.”  For me and maybe for all of us, the message of this year’s celebration of the Feast of the Annunciation is that in God’s good time, all will unfold as it is meant to unfold. And, in the meantime, we need to be at peace with the mystery of God’s timing.

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