Saturday, March 25, 2017

“Hail, Favored One! The Lord Is with You”

Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary people, must you also weary my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel, which means "God is with us!" Isaiah 7:13-14, 8:10C

First, he says, "Sacrifices and offerings, holocausts and sin offerings, you neither desired nor delighted in." These are offered according to the law. Then he says, "Behold, I come to do your will." He takes away the first to establish the second. By this "will," we have been consecrated through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.  Hebrews 10:8-10

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." Luke 1:26-28

Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will. (Psalm 40:8-9)

Our March liturgical calendar has been a sea of Lenten purple squares except for two white squares this week.  Monday, we celebrated the humility and obedience of Joseph.  Today, we shift our focus to the humility and obedience of Mary.

Imagine how today’s media-obsessed world would cover today’s readings…

BREAKING NEWS:  Today, at the temple, the head Rabbi announced that no longer are sacrifices and offering’s required.  This has started a chaotic scene of protest among the Pharisees as well as the pigeon, dove and lamb sellers in and near Jerusalem. Elsewhere, in Bethlehem, a teenager got pregnant and almost broke her engagement to the local carpenter. We go now to our reporter, Geraldo Rivera who is interviewing the Pharisee Nicodemus at the turbulent scene outside the temple. 

For ages, the Jews were awaiting a sign from God about the future.  They were expecting an extraordinary or miraculous sign that would prove God’s firm will to save the royal house of David from its oppressors be they the Syrians, the Egyptians or the Romans.  Maybe it would be a great storm.  Or a plague.  Or another invasion of locusts. Little did they expect a teenage girl getting pregnant in Nazareth would fulfill that prophecy. Yet that is exactly what is predicted in the lines from Isaiah.

When the announcement came to Mary – before anyone else knew -- the angel had to repeat it to Mary a significant three times. The really important things in the Bible get repeated.  And the exceptionally important things get repeated three times.

"Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." (Luke 1:28)

"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. (30)

"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. (35)

Imagine if the angel was addressing you.

How can the obedience and humility of Joseph and Mary help you through your last two weeks of preparation for Easter?  Their attitude points us toward the attitude that Jesus will live out on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. 

Consider making the words of Psalm 40 guide your path:  Here I am Lord.  I come to do your will.

(Photo credit: The Annunciation, (1898), Henry Ossawa Tanner. from the Philadelphia Museum of Art,)

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