Solemnity of the Annunciation

There is a story within today’s Gospel story of the Annunciation of the angel to Mary. The story of how the incarnation began is itself an incarnational story. The mystery of the incarnation is God becoming visible in Jesus who is the human form of the invisible God. In the story of how this came about is the invisible becoming visible. Angles are spirits with no gender or body, yet the angel and Mary have been lifted off the page and painted on canvas by some of the greatest artist of all times. The story lets their imagination sort of go wild. The wings of the angel are especially attractive to the artistic imagination of Fra Angelico and he tries to convey in picture the tenderness expressed in the words of the text. The words and the text are all incarnational expressions of the human imagination.

The revelation of the mystery of the incarnation reaches all aspects of life. Today’s Gospel clearly announces the major message of the birth of Jesus but within the story there are many hidden messages for us. To my mind one of these is Mary’s vulnerability. She is told several things that do not make sense to her. That she will conceive and give birth to a son, that her relative Elizabeth who is too old will bear a son also. All these things seem impossible but the Angel lets it be known to Mary and to us nothing is impossible to God. Mary shows us that faith makes possible what seems impossible to us.

Not understanding how her life will play out Mary takes the leap of faith and says let it be done to me according to your word. Here is a message for us. Faith, according to the letter to the Hebrews is the conviction of things not seen. People have given their lives over this conviction. Mary handed over her life the moment she said let it be done.

The vulnerability of not seeing of not understanding can be a door by which God enters our life. Mary commits her life and her future to a promise and as her life unfolds the promise becomes a reality. Let it be done to me is the story of everyone’s life. Somewhere along the line we are called to make a commitment to what we believe in. A young couple about to get married commit themselves to an unknown future, a monk making solemn vows commits himself to a way of life until death. He knows not what the future will bring but with Mary he says let it be done to me.

As our life unfolds, we take inspiration and courage from Mary who lived out a promise from the conception of her son to the foot of the cross where he died. Her words, let it be done to me according to your words, were inspired by God, made incarnate in Mary and passed onto us to strengthen us and to help us to believe in the invisible God and his promise even for the things we do not understand in our life. We have many occasions to join Mary and say with her let it be done to me according to your words.