Today’s feast is mysterious in many ways. The doctrine tells us that God’s power —unexpected and unprecedented— acted at the very moment of Mary’s conception. Born of the love of her parents Anne and Zechariah, Mary was conceived “full of grace,” a gift that only one other human would share: her own child, God’s beloved Son, Jesus.
The Scripture readings tell us that we too share in the abundance of this God who does “wondrous deeds” (Psalm), who chose us too, before time began, and destined us to be one with Christ (Ephesians). Not even the willful ways of our first parents (Genesis) —or our own— can thwart God’s loving purpose.
The bottom-line message of Mary’s feast for me is this:
Beyond everything that I as a human being can grasp, beyond all that seems to contradict it, God’s love rules my life. Love will prevail, in ways far beyond anything that I can ask or imagine.
I can’t imagine that Mary understood, or even knew, the meaning of the gift God had given her. I can’t imagine that it took away her moments of confusion, wonderment and fear about the happenings that her everyday life brought on. In today’s Gospel, Luke recounts one of those times when she was “greatly troubled” at the fateful visit of an angel who bore astounding news. Like us, it took Mary a lifetime to grow in understanding herself, her life, her reality, and the ever-present love of God that embraced it all.
These tumultuous times in our broken world and fragile lives can tempt us to question whether, and how, God is truly in charge. Mary is both our companion in that question and our guide in trusting the powerful love of God.
Mother Mary, pray for us, that we may become bearers of Christ to our world. May we believe in a Love that existed long before us and will endure long after us —a Love that rules our lives, a Love that will prevail, in ways far beyond anything that we can ask or imagine.
Image: The Annunciation, by Henry Ossawa Tanner, American (active France), 1859–1937, Philadelphia Museum of Art.
– Sr. Regina Bechtle
Sr. Regina, a writer, retreat leader, speaker, and spiritual director, serves as Charism Resource Director for the Sisters of Charity of New York.