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.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today’s reading and, in fact, the Feast of the Annunciation in general, have always seemed a bit jarring in the midst of our Lenten journey. Reading a Gospel that I associate with Advent and Christmas is not what I expect in this season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. But I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this year’s Lent doesn’t look at all like what any of us expected. Around our country and our world, the daily routines of our lives have come to a screeching halt. Many churches have suspended public Masses, leaving us to find new ways to pray and be a part of this community of faith.
Despite this, as is often the case, the rhythm of our liturgical readings aligns perfectly with the situations in our lives. We didn’t expect to be practicing social distancing and, in many cases, self-isolating in our homes. Mary didn’t expect to have a conversation with an angel or to become the mother of the Messiah. But even though she was surprised, confused, and likely more than a little bit fearful, she placed her trust in the angel’s words that “The Lord is with you.” This promise is not for Mary alone. Our faith tells us that the Lord is with each of us, and we are not left alone.
In this time of uncertainty and fear, may we remember that our God continues to be with us, individually and in our world, even when this season looks nothing like what we expected.
—Lauren Gaffey is the Associate Director of Communications for the Midwest Jesuits and the Program Director of Charis Ministries and Jesuit Connections, ministries of the Office of Ignatian Spirituality.
God is our refuge and our strength,
an ever-present help in distress.
Thus we do not fear, though earth be shaken
and mountains quake to the depths of the sea,
Though its waters rage and foam
and mountains totter at its surging.
Streams of the river gladden the city of God,
the holy dwelling of the Most High.
God is in its midst; it shall not be shaken;
God will help it at break of day.
Though nations rage and kingdoms totter,
he utters his voice and the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
—Psalm 46: 2-8Please share the Good Word with your friends!