December 8th 2008
Let it Be
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."
Iinvite you to think about your calling in life. You may say “I don’t know if I have a calling in life. I have just gone from one thing to another over the years and I struggle on from day to day.” Yet when you think about your present state in life as a married or a single person, as a parent or grandparent, you may recognize a calling from God in that. Likewise in the work that you do and in the contribution you make, you may say with confidence, “God meant me to do this.” One definite calling may have shaped your life, or there may have been more than one, some big and some small.
You may be encouraged when you look at the story of Mary’s calling at the Annunciation and find that you have experienced something like that in your own life. Of course Mary’s calling to be the mother of God is unique, yet the Gospel presents her as the perfect model for all of us; the way God calls us is like the way he called her, and we are moved to respond the way she did.
There are nine different moments in the story of Mary’s calling; you may recognize some or all or them in your own experience of being called.
1. Mary was in Nazareth, an unknown place in her day; you may think of the places you were in when you were called to make important decisions about your life. God’s call comes to us in a particular place and at a particular time in our lives.
2. The angel Gabriel said to Mary, “Rejoice so highly favoured, the Lord is with you.” Mary is assured that she is deeply loved and favoured and that God is with her. Often a call begins with a deep experience of God’s love and blessing. I am reminded of the young woman I met on a train as she travelled home from Killarney where her boyfriend had asked her to marry him. “I am a very happy girl,” she said, and the words came from the depths of her heart.
3. Our experience of God’s great goodness and love makes us aware of our littleness and unworthiness. We know that we do not deserve these blessings. That was why Mary was not only surprised but deeply disturbed by the words of the angel.
4. The angel told Mary what her calling was: she was to bring Jesus into the world. Nobody but Mary was asked to do this, yet each of us in the lives we live and the work we do and the talents we use, makes present some aspect of Jesus: his love, his courage, his wisdom, his endurance - we bring Jesus into our world.
5. Mary put her difficulties about this calling to the angel. When Mother Teresa heard her God’s call to go and live among the poor in Calcutta, she must have foreseen many obstacles, and it may have taken some time before the Lord showed her the way forward.
6. Mary was given the information she needed and the assurance that God would make it possible: “the Holy Spirit will come upon you...”
7. Mary was further reassured through a surprising event that had happened: her elderly cousin was pregnant. At important moments in our lives some small good thing sometimes happens that assures us that God is taking care of us: the sun shines unexpectedly, or a friend contacts us, or we remember a line from the Bible that fits exactly in our present situation.
8. Mary gave her free and wholehearted response to God’s call.
9. The angel left her. The angel’s task was successfully completed. Mary was now left to face and live out the consequences of her decision. This may have been your experience too.
Father, all-powerful God,
your eternal Word took flesh on our earth
when the Virgin Mary placed her life
at the service of your plan.
Lift our minds in watchful hope
to hear the voice which announces his glory
and open our minds to receive the Spirit
who prepares us for his coming.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen