Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Lent day 31

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary, a festive occasion in the midst of Lenten seriousness. 
St Luke portrays the angel Gabriel speaking to Mary about God's favourable regard for her. She is the one chosen to become the mother of him who will be Son of God, the divine Word in human flesh. In simple and humble trust she consents, saying

"Here I am, the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38)

These words echo Psalm 40: 7-8, quoted in Hebrews 10:7, part of the explanation develop there of the meaning of Christ's self-sacrifice.

"Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; My ears You have opened; Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. Then I said, "Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart." (Ps 40:6-8)

Luke is well aware of the importance of Isaiah's Servant Song in the spirituality of Jesus, something he would have learned as he grew up at home with his family, from his mother. Her devotion to God led her to see herself as His servant (handmaid), so her trusting response to this angelic encounter is understandably natural.

When Jesus is presented for dedication in the Temple after his birth Simeon speaks about his destiny and that of his mother. It's another kind of annunciation, one that heralds the passion from afar.

"Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” " (Luke 2:34-35)

Mary does not protest in any way about this added, less agreeable dimension to her destiny. She does express distress at the thought of losing him when he goes missing during a Temple pilgrimage journey home, aged twelve (Luke 2:41-50), but once normality is returned the story says of Mary:

"His mother treasured all these things in her heart." (Luke 2:51b)

There is a particular group according to Luke that gathers by the crosses erected on Golgotha, allowed to draw near presumably because they were not considered a threat. These were  

"the women who had followed him from Galilee" (Luke 24:49)

Luke also says they are the ones who take charge of performing his burial rites.

"The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments." (Luke 24:55-56) 

John actually identifies Mary as one of the women who is there during Jesus' final agony, but she says nothing.

"Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene." (John 19:25)

Simply in being there, she fulfils Simeon's prophecy thirty three years earlier.

Mary is simply present one more time, at prayer with the Apostles after Jesus' ascension, waiting with them for the promised Spirit.

"All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary, the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers." (Acts 1:14)

After her terrible time of sorrow and separation, she is re-united with her son, raised to life in vindication of his obedience and trust. Her delight in doing God's will is restored forever.

No comments:

Post a Comment