Fiat … Let it be done!
This was Mary’s response to the angel when he said she would be the Mother of God, the Mother of the Savior.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done unto me according to thy word. (Luke 1:38)
Although spoken in another language (perhaps Aramaic), in another land and culture, and in an era distant from our own, the words and what they express cut across time, distance and translation. They express a universal human response to an encounter with the divine: awe, reverence, acceptance. Not only did Mary have these qualities, she was also uniquely prepared to receive the gift of God, being preserved from any stain of Original Sin coming from Adam and Eve. She was truly the New Eve, destined to start our race anew by saying “yes” to God to counter the “no” of our first parents.
This is just a small part of what we celebrate today, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, when Jesus took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary. In nine months, the period of a perfect maternity, Jesus will be born into the world. The joy should begin even now, in the middle of Lent, as the Church allows the “Gloria” to be recited at Mass.
The Annunciation, in our lives, should not be an event long past that is simply remembered. All of the Church’s feasts and solemnities are meant to be celebrations in the present. A re-presenting in our own lives the truths that live in the Church. We are invited to live out now what happened then, so that the life of Christ may be made visible today in us.
One way to do this is the way of St. Ignatius, who advises those who follow his Exercises to place themselves in the scenes of the Gospels. With a little grace and imagination, we can do the same.
What if an angel came into my life, my room, with a message from God? Imagine. What would my response be? Certainly fear, maybe even doubt or disbelief. How can I be sure of my senses, that this is real and not a dream? How can I tell that this is an angel and not a darker spirit? In my fright and uncertainty, would I even be able to understand the message the angel conveyed?
We all think at times that God is silent, or he doesn’t seem to have me in mind because I never hear from him. He doesn’t seem to answer my prayers, and certainly he has worked no miracles in my life. I believe, but I also have questions or doubts.
Yet by being “silent,” by not allowing his angel to appear to your eyes, maybe God is sparing you. He knows your weaknesses and sins. He knows how you might doubt and even rebel. He knows, perhaps, that you are not ready for a direct communication. Think of a power line that is overloaded and frayed, incapable of carrying a full load of electricity. That is an image of the soul for most of us.
God does speak – a whisper in a heart or conscience, a proclamation of the Scriptures at Mass, the words of absolution by the priest in Confession. God does appear – hidden behind the accidents of bread and wine, or in the “distressing disguise” of our neighbor in need. We have from his very hands the miracle of each sunrise, the miracle of new life in the womb, the miracle of our own lives, moment to moment.
Do we see? How do we respond? Mary is our model, with her faith, her trust, her love, her “yes”.
Fiat … Let it be done! Today and every day.