The Feast of the Annunciation. How? Nothing is Impossible with God.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, And he came to Mary and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’* But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’* The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born* will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her. Luke 1:26-38
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation. It is a glorious day as this encounter between Gabriel and Mary unites the Old Testament and the New Testament. It is the fulfillment of the eternal promise and the reality of our deliverance. Where all the prayers and petitions that have been lifted up since the beginning of time come to life. "He will be great, and His Kingdom will never end." The Good News.
Poets and artists throughout the centuries have attempted to capture this profound moment. As I was praying over this meditation, something struck me about the Annunciation. All the questions and God's eternal presence within those questions. Today, I invite you to pray over the Annunciation differently. A different,
joyful take on the Jesuit imaginative prayer.
Begin with Gabriel. Imagine the questions when God summoned him. God tells him: "Gabriel, you will take this message. You will take it not to a King, President, nor Emperor. You will take this message to a woman. A young, poor woman in the small town of Nazareth. She is the one." Gabriel must have thought: "A poor, young woman? Wasn't I just down there last week?
What is the message?"
God's response: "Out of love, my deep love, I will send the Savior of the world. Oh, and Gabriel, it gets better. He will take the form of humanity, he will come not with power and riches, will look like them, clothed in the same skin, and he will teach them about hope, forgiveness, humanity, compassion, acceptance, and my love. His name will be Jesus."
Gabriel must have thought: "Wow. This is amazing, no one will believe this. All the gods they have conjured throughout time do not love like this. Are you sure?"
Gabriel must have been full of questions as searched for Mary. Yes, he was the messenger, but this is different from past messages. He was the one who had interpreted Daniel's dreams. Doesn't God send messages through prophets, not angels? Why now?
Just a week earlier, Gabriel had rendered Zacharias deaf and unable to speak for not believing and questioning when he announced the birth of John the Baptist. While, I do not know the mind of angels, nor am I one, I wonder if Gabriel had the following questions on his way to speak to Mary:
What should be the timing of the announcement?
Where in Nazareth?
While she is working or perhaps when she is sleeping?
Will Mary run away?
Will Mary believe me?
That encounter with Zacharias was not pretty.
What if she says no? God is really giving her a choice?
He picks the time and place and appears. Mary is frightened because she knows the presence of angels does not foretell Good News. "What are you doing here?" Then the words: Blessed Mary, Hello. You are loved by God. Don't fear because God is with you."
Mary asks, "why me?" Gabriel listens and reassures her. He is not demanding, threatening, or overbearing. "You are the one that God has chosen, and through you, God's hope and love will be born into the lives of all God's beloved children."
Gabriel has the privilege to be the first one to speak the name of Jesus, and Mary is the first one to accept Jesus. Then the response: "Yes!" The Annunciation and the affirmation. Now, we are blessedly living the reality of Gabriel's message, the depth Mary's trust, and the truth God's love.
On Gabriel's return, he must have been filled with a mix of emotions. The hope and joy in Mary's response. The relief that humanity is saved because of Jesus. The deep sense of peace, in the knowing, that the God he serves, the God of all creation loves us with an indescribable and unconditional love.
During this time, we will encounter our fears and anxieties. We have so many questions about what the future holds. During those instances, keep this encounter between God, Gabriel, and Mary. Know that God's presence is always within your holy questioning. We may not receive the answers that we demand and want; however, there is a blessed assurance that God is with us, God loves us, and God will guide us. The answer may be in that beautiful and mysterious presence.
The message of new life is being announced in many ways.
Why us? "You have found favor with the Lord?
Why now? "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you."
Why? Why? "Don't be afraid. Nothing is impossible with God."