miércoles, 6 de abril de 2016

"Behold" - Annunciation as Invitation

Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called in the supper of the Lamb.” These are words utter by the presider during the communion before distributing the Bread. Behold is a word of invitation to focus one’s attention to the Lamb/Bread. In the annunciation narrative from the Gospel of Luke, (NAB translation) the word “behold” (look or see in other translations) is repeated three times (Lk 1:31, 36 and 38). The first two are addressed to Mary and the third is addressed to Gabriel.

The Annunciation is also an invitation. It is not just an announcement or an information about the birth of Jesus. It also an invitation to focus our attention to the Good News.

The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and greeted her, but she was afraid. So, Gabriel invited her to calm down and believe in the Good News. The angel said to her: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus (vv 30-31).” Then, he explained and gave more information about the Good News. But, still, Mary was afraid and confused because she had no relation with a man (v 34). Thus, he explained to her the process of conception (v35).

Together with this explanation is an assurance that everything is possible for God. He said to her: “And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren (vv 36-37).” It means that whether a virgin or a barren could bear a child. But one should not focus on the process of conception but one should focus on the claim truth of the Gospel, that is, there is Good News that redemption is possible. This is the invitation of the second “behold”, to believe and have faith in God that He sent his only begotten Son to redeem the whole humanity.

The third “behold” is Mary’s response to the invitations of Gabriel. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to your word (v 38).” Now, it is Mary’s turn inviting Gabriel to focus on her good news of humble acceptance of his message and to the will of God, although, she knows that she puts her life in danger. This is her “fiat”. This could be Mary’s personal acclamation: “Your will be done.” Just like what Jesus did when he accepted his death: “Father, …, not my will but your will be done (Lk 22:42; Mt 26:39; Mk 14:36).”

The Annunciation is an invitation to believe in the Good News. But believing entails full trust, and trusting is not an easy mission. Sometimes, trust could lead us to sufferings, persecution, betrayal, and even death. Trust or faith in God means doing His will and setting aside our own. As Pierre de Berulle puts it: “This ‘Fiat’ of the Blessed Virgin is not a word of common piety and ordinary significance. It is a humble yet powerful word in which heaven rejoices (The Life of Jesus).”

The invitation for us in this Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord is to trust the God who gives life and the One who also restores it. The Lord is inviting us to do the will of God. Just like Mary’s “fiat” we are also invited to say our own “yes” to God. Have faith in God.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, you obeyed your Father and accepted His will even accepting death on the cross and your Mother also accepted the will of the Father to bear you in her womb. Both of you said yes to God. Allow us to do the same. Give us a heart that is obedient to God’s will. Allow us to say, “May your will be done.” Amen.


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