“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

Yesterday’s solemnity of the Immaculate Conception gives us the announcement of the Son of God becoming incarnate (Lk 1:26-38).  The angel Gabriel visits the virgin Mary of Nazareth greeting her as “full of grace.”  Mary, troubled by these words, hears Gabriel go on to tell her that she is to be the mother of an everlasting king.  Not understanding how she could become a mother as a vowed virgin, Mary is told that it is by the Holy Spirit that she will conceive.  She is also told of the miraculous pregnancy of an elderly relative.  Mary responds with the words above and Gabriel departs.  Like any devout Jewish girl of the time, Mary would have been praying for the coming of the redeemer of Israel.  This was likely a lifetime preparation instilled by her parents.  The sense is that she is not surprised about the announcement of the imminent arrival of a messiah, but that she, a humble young girl from a small town, is the chosen vessel through whom he would visit his people.  Not fully understanding how this is to happen or its implications, she wholeheartedly assents to God’s will for her.  And then, in a flash, she is left alone again.  What a marvelous example for us!  Preparing to hear from the Lord through prayer (i.e., conversation with God), fasting, learning the Faith, proper attitude toward every person we encounter should be our constant disposition.  Being attuned to God’s call in this way will make us open to His promptings.  We will not always understand the reasons or the implications of what we are asked to do but, through the gift of faith, we, like Mary, can give an unqualified “Yes!”  and then leap into the arms of the Most High in full trust.

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