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Today is the feast of the Annunciation, the day when we celebrate God’s choice of Mary to be the mother of Jesus. Difficult to understand on a human level, even Mary questioned God about the possibility. “How can this be?” she asked the angel sent to let her know what was to be her work in the the world. I can imagine a more distressing reaction, something in the neighborhood of:

WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT??? THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING!! I’M A VIRGIN, FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE!!!”

Of course, the Scriptures paint a different picture. Mary was steeped in love for God and willing to do whatever she was called to do for God. It’s difficult to know how she felt on that day – and perhaps the days that followed. We have only one clue about those days following this pronouncement. Mary left her home and traveled into the hill country to the house of her kinswoman, Elizabeth, who was an older relative with whom she could share this news, try to understand what God was doing and find the support that she needed to agree to God’s plan.

There is a prayer in Thomas Merton’s Book of Hours, taken from his Asian Journal, p. 318-19, that I like to think might have been Mary’s “acceptance speech” when she came to terms with God’s choice of her as Mother of the Christ. Listen, and consider what she was agreeing to as her life’s work.

Oh, God, in accepting one another wholeheartedly, fully, completely, we accept You, and we thank You, and we adore You, and we love You with our whole being, because our being is in Your being, our spirit is rooted in Your spirit. Fill us then with love as we go our diverse ways, united in this one spirit which makes You present in the world, and which makes You witness to the ultimate reality that is love. Love has overcome. Love is victorious. Amen.