It is ironic and odd that the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord follows on the heels of the announcement of Tampa’s stay-at-home order. But wonderfully graced that we have the opportunity to let “Announcement” inform the other.
Today we celebrate the scene in which the Angel Gabriele comes to Mary to announce she will be the mother of Emmanuel, “God with us.” Words we need to hold close to our heart and memory in the looming shadow of the pandemic.
My friend, Fr. Bill McConville OFM, notes that part of the church’s art tradition is that the scene of the Annunciation often portrays Mary, not empty-handed, but holding a book or a scroll, her reading and reflecting on Scripture being interrupted by the angel’s pronouncement. The tradition is that she is meditating on Isaiah 7 (today’s first reading) in which there is the promise that a virgin will bear a child.
Perhaps. Or Perhaps she was reflecting on Isaiah 52:13-53:12, the Suffering Servant Song in which the prophet describes the one who will be so marred and disfigured that he will not even seem a man, yet this is the one who will atone for the sins of humanity. Or maybe she was reflecting on any number of passages – perhaps the same one Jesus will share with the disciples on the road to Emmaus in which all the prophets and Law point to the Messiah. Hard to say. We do know that she holds “all these things” in her heart and pondered what they all might mean.
Mary is a woman of the Word. A woman who let the Word of God form her life view, let the Word of God into her life, and gave birth to the Word of God among us.
In these days as we find new footing, may we be people of the Word – our lives shaped, molded, and formed by God – so when life “announces” the joyful, the painful, and all the in-between, we are ready to say, “Be it done according to your Word.”
Be safe. Be smart. Be holy.