Saying Yes; Feast of the Annunciation

Today we celebrate the great “Fiat” of Mary, the moment when she says yes to the proposal from God that she is to become the mother of the savior of the world. Our scripture readings for this feast allow us to have a bird’s eye view of this moment and to be able to see it from two perspectives.

The first perspective is that of God, which we interpret through the readings from the Prophet Isaiah and in the letter to the Hebrews.

In the first reading we find King Ahaz worried with concern for the survival of his Kingdom. Isaiah’s words to the king at first seem stern but they are in fact words of comfort. He reassures the king that God will not let his kingdom fall and that he could even ask God for a sign to prove the promise was true. With false humility Ahaz refuses the challenge, on the premise that he would not dare to presume to test God with such a request. Isaiah sees through the King’s posturing, perhaps noting that it is only fear of the unknown future that keeps the king from asking.

Isaiah proceeds to share with Ahaz the sign that God will offer, that a virgin would conceive and bear a Son whose name would be Immanuel, which means God is with us.

As we move ahead to the New Testament, at time when the promise once made to King Ahaz has now been fulfilled, we find in the letter to the Hebrews a description of God’s motivation, the reason why God would send us this sign, which is his Son.

And the reason is love. For so long the relationship between God and us had been broken. We had strayed from the path and no matter what we tried we couldn’t make it right. So, God intervened and, in his Son, gave to the world the one perfect offering that would mend the rift between us.

But God wanted our cooperation, this gift would not be imposed but rather it would be a collaboration that would include us and so he approached one of us, he chose Mary, and asked her to be the mother of Jesus.

Our Gospel today describes Mary’s response. First, she is disturbed, who wouldn’t be afraid to be approached by an angel. Then she was confused. “How can I be a mother when I haven’t even been with a man?”, she asks, which is seemingly a fair question. What is most important, however, is that despite the normal human reactions, Mary is able to rise to the heroic response of saying “Yes” to what God is asking of her and in doing so, what had been prophesied as the hope for King Ahaz, becomes the hope for all of us, that the relationship between us and God would not fall but would be secured forever by the gift of God’s Son, Jesus.

What was it in Mary that allowed her to say yes to something so great? What allowed her to overcome her fear and to cast aside her doubts in order to participate in God’s plan? It was Grace, the love and mercy that comes from God not because we are deserving but because he wants us to have it.

This same Grace is in you. God’s grace is with you. Do not be afraid, cast aside your doubts and know that you are loved by God. Ask God for the help to say yes to the path that he has put before you. Choose to follow the good and say to God, “be it done to me according to your will.”

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