Monday, March 23, 2009

Annunciation: some thoughts

T

he news last week about Nicole’s retraction saddened me.

Three years after battling it out in court of law, she recants her testimony and states that she doubts if the American serviceman really raped her.

I don’t know her personally. But one part of me fought with her when she was battling it out in the court. I rejoiced when she won the case. And now that things suddenly became different, I grieve with her. And like most of the people who watched keenly the development of her case, I am dismayed.

News like this cannot but affect us since we feel for the subject of the story. We know that people like Nicole are not merely fictional characters conjured randomly by some author. They have real lives. They are real.

But we also know that not all news fall into such category. I know of one, which was delivered more than 2,000 years ago, and yet, remains to be a source of joy and anticipation for all who hear it.

The news report was delivered neither by some award-winning journalists, nor pretty-faced newsreaders. The piece of good news was conveyed no less by an Archangel.    

It was delivered to a virgin named Mary, who was barely in her teenage years. 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, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.”

Pope Benedict XVI, in meeting with some members of the clergy last month affirmed that “Mary is really the woman who listens: We see it in the meeting with the angel, and we see it again in all the scenes of her life, from the wedding at Cana to the cross and to the day of Pentecost, when she was in the midst of the Apostles precisely to receive the Spirit. She is the symbol of openness, of the Church that awaits the coming of the Holy Spirit.”

The Annunciation was a humble, hidden event that no one witnessed except for Mary. But at the same time it was a decisive moment in the history of humanity.

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” When the Virgin said ‘Yes’ to the Angel’s Annunciation, Jesus was conceived and with Him began a new era in history.

May this news on God’s assuming a human form, first delivered to the Blessed Mother, and later to each of us continue to become a source of inspiration and joy. Like our Blessed Mother, we are called to nurture in us, as Pope Benedict XVI would put it, “an attitude of listening which does not simply say yes, but which assimilates the Word, takes the Word, and then follows with true obedience.”