What a fittng feast for the situation in which we find ourselves. We who are struggling to come to terms with what is going on around us. We who don’t know which way is up, who are being asked to make decisions the consequences of which we cannot fully understand; decisions that will make a future that we can only guess at. We who are rediscovering just how fragile we are, just how powerless we are, yet also how united we are to each other in our fundamental, common humanity.
But this is what faces each one of us in the weeks, perhaps months ahead. Small moments. Tiny decisions. Little opportunities to place our faith in Christ. In fact, this is just what life is always like: the Word of God asking us to say Yes to the Incarnation. Calling us into new life. Inviting us into friendship with God. But just like the desert experiences in the Bible that seem to put true life into relief, so too our current challenge seems to lay life bare.
Our decisions, our challenges may vary. Some of us may be trying to keep a business afloat. Some of may be trying to keep a family going. Others might be wondering what comes next, what opportunities are opening up for us to grab hold of. Others may be so tired from figh1ng that they are wondering when they can just rest. Still others might be figh1ng invisible demons of addiction, loneliness or depression, shorn of the usual supports. All these (plus the countless others) are challenges that only the person facing them can do justice to. But these are all moments in which our freedom to do good and avoid evil, our freedom to do the best we can, our freedom to have faith in God and hope for the Kingdom must be exercised. And just as Mary said Yes to God and then set off to visit Elizabeth, these moments when united to Christ will also bring us closer to our neighbours by impelling charity.
St John Henry Newman wrote:
God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission – I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next...I have a part in a great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work, I shall be an Angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling. Therefore I will trust Him...He knows what He is about. (1)
This is the truth of Annunciation. God asking us to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, asking us to receive the Word and offer ourselves in return, that we may be formed after the image of His Only Son, the Beloved. So, let us ask our Lady to intercede on our behalf. May we have faith like hers. May we hope like she did. And may we love God and our neighbour after the image of her Son.
— (1) Erich Przywara (ed.), The Heart of Newman (San Francisco: Igna1us Press, 2010), 218-9.