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Let what you have said be done to me ...

Monday, March 26, 2007
The Annunciation of the Lord

Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14; Psalm 40; Hebrews 10:4-10; Luke 1:26-38

Mary is often presented as the archetype of faith. According to Hans Urs von Balthasar, for instance, Mary made, through her ‘yes’ to God, the perfect nuptial response of faith. This ‘yes’ - may it be done to me according to your word­ - given to the angel by the handmaid of the Lord is the fundamental act of Mary's entire life. It is also the fundamental act of the Church in each of her members. In a sense, Mary’s answer is the archetype and principle of the faith response of the entire Church. Fair enough. But what does it mean for us? And how do we understand these words?

It seems to me that today’s gospel presents three important dimensions of our faith.

First of all, Mary is not pictured in this gospel as having a blind faith, but a faith not afraid of asking questions. Her first reaction was to say “how can this be?” In Mary’s faith, as well as in ours, questions have to precede our “yes”. This means there can be no faith without doubt, without questions.

Secondly, if Mary’s ‘yes’ can be described as the summary of her entire life, it is of course not only the summary of her speeches, but more deeply of her deeds. “Let us not love in word or in tongue but in deed and in truth” says John in his first letter (1 Jn 3:18). Therefore, if our yes has to be expressed in deeds, doubt and questions are found not only in our speeches but also in our deeds! Our acts and deeds also reveal our doubts and questions. Our deeds also express this “how can this be?” We can be amazed but also annoyed, puzzled, even revolted at God’s call. There are inconsistencies in our lives of which we ought not to be afraid. Rather, and surprisingly, they can shed light on our quest for truth.

Thirdly, it is interesting to note that the Angel Gabriel did not directly answer Mary’s question. With us the question of how things are to be done takes most of the time. But the answer of Gabriel explains why things have to be done ...


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