Tuesday of the Fourth Week
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Today’s Gospel tells a very familiar story, the annunciation of the birth of Jesus. If we aren’t attentive, it may come and go as it does each year, a quaint Christmas anecdote. If we don’t pause for a deeper reflection, we might perceive Mary’s humble “yes” simply as the rote response appropriate of any holy woman when approached by an angel.
But to receive today’s Gospel in this light would be a failure to appreciate the true struggle present in the choice that Mary must confront at this delicate moment of her life. Her “yes” is also a yes to the whispers that will come in her community about a pregnant, unwed teen. It is a yes to uncertainty of the implications her engagement. It’s a yes to years ahead of the sacrifices of parenthood. It is, of course, also a yes to the joy of motherhood and to the love and the life that are discovered when we answer God’s invitation. But Mary’s calling requires something of her, as our own calling often does of us.
Calling is a deeply personal thing. It has come at moments in my own life as a profound recognition about the way I’m living, the person I want to become and the path I need to walk to get there. But more often it comes as a simple invitation in the midst of daily pressures to be a more loving person or a more selfless person, to choose to do good, rather than to be indifferent or self-interested. Where is God’s invitation for you today, be it grand or mundane? Isaiah and Gabriel announce Emmanuel – “God who is with us.” This is the annunciation of a God who is not distant, but intimately present, a God who knows the joys and the struggles of a life seeking the good in the midst of human brokenness. Do you trust that God, who is Emmanuel, will lead you to deeper life, even with whatever sacrifices come with your “yes”?
-Jacob Schneider '06, Doctoral candidate in Economics at the University of Southern California