On this feast of the Annunciation, the day when Mary of Nazareth consented to be the mother of the Christ, the Scripture readings are focused on assent to what God asks of us. Clearly the sacrifices of old are not enough. God is asking for our very selves. Psalm 40 repeats the refrain, Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will. The psalmist knows that God doesn’t wish “sacrifices or oblations, holocausts or sin offerings,” and so offers himself saying, Behold I come! To do your will, O my God, is my delight! Perhaps Mary was reminded of those words in the startling, incredible event of her encounter with God’s messenger who told her she had been chosen to be the mother of the long-awaited Messiah. The notion of the Messiah that Israel had been waiting for would have given her absolutely no sense that she was in the running for that honor! Why would God choose a lowly teenager from a small town to birth the one who was to restore the throne of David? It could only have been her recognition that this was no self-created illusion but rather a true call from God that made her say yes.
Long ago, I read an alternate translation of Mary’s response that most of us know as “Be it done unto me according to your word.” (LK 1:38) That translation spoke more to me of the strength of Mary’s trust in God and her relationship, even at her young age, with the God that was her guiding principle for life. I treasure the translation and, when I am challenged with a path I would rather not walk or a task I would rather not perform, I think of it and try to live up to Mary’s example. I offer it as my reflection for today.
Mary said, “I belong to the Lord, body and soul. Let it happen as you say!”