Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Annunciation: 'I am the Handmade of the Lord.'

10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Daily Gospel with a prayerful heart.
By Jane Borg (No.93)   
The Annunciation
In the sixth month, 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, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then 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. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. 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; for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38)

We see in scripture that Mary often responds to her circumstances by ‘pondering’ what she has been told or what she has witnessed. This is a wonderful example for us.

What does it mean to ponder? It implies a careful weighing of a problem or, often, prolonged inconclusive thinking about a matter – reflection, meditation.

Mary, a young teenager, was asked to be the mother of God. To voluntarily fall pregnant out of wedlock within a culture where the expected outcome would be rejection by her spouse and stoning to death. There was much for Mary to ponder! 

Yet Mary's response shows us that her pondering would not have dwelt on the implications for her own safety – surely her answer would then have been "no"? Mary was a woman of faith and her pondering would have been on the hope for Israel of this promised Messiah and her trust in the God whom she loved.

In our world to day we are faced with so many decisions; so many challenges to our faith and to the moral beliefs we hold. When making decisions, big or small, let us follow Mary’s example – ponder and trust. 

Let us think not just about the immediate implications for ourselves – what will people think about me, will I be excluded by my friends, will this cost me a promotion? 

Let us look to the hope that is in Jesus Christ.
Let us look at the solid teachings passed down from Him through the Church that guide us in our moral decision-making. 
Let us hope in the love and mercy of Christ and in the eternal reward awaiting us.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that little decisions don’t need our pondering, or in fact that any decision can be made outside our consideration of God. Any thing we think, say or do either brings us closer to God or further away, and either brings others closer to God or further away. 

We can make this process more innate within us by regular ‘pondering’. If we come to Jesus each day, if we let the Holy Spirit mould our minds and our hearts, we will be transformed and able to test and prove the will of God (Rom 12:2). 

Like Mary let us open ourselves more to the Holy Spirit and ponder the things God reveals to us.

Jane Borg

5 minutes: READ the text slowly.
REFLECT on a phrase or word that struck you.
SPEAK to God about your thoughts.
5 minutes: LISTEN to God speak to you.
RESPOND with a prayer that feels right for you.

Next Reflection: Malcolm Davies  Friday 27th March, 2015