In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”
The angel said to her, “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 holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with 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.
Reflection: We Draw Together
By Andrea Cisneros ‘10M.Ed.
(Read this reflection in Spanish here.)
On a rocky hill, when the days were growing short, a strange, unearthly woman appeared to a man named Juan Diego. “Ten entendido hijo mío el más pequeño, que es nada lo que te asusta y aflige. No estoy yo aquí que soy tu madre?” Roughly translated: “Understand, my smallest child, that the things that frighten and afflict you are nothing. Am I not here who am your mother?”
Don’t be afraid. You are not alone.
Fifteen hundred years before Tepeyac, before she accumulated title after title, Our Lady of Guadalupe was just Mary, and she herself was visited by a strange apparition.
Gabriel’s visit with this girl Mary does not begin well. His greeting is over the top, and instead of starting a conversation it leaves Mary “greatly troubled.” The angel tries again, delivering unprecedented good news. Mary is skeptical—this is an outrageous claim: she will bear a son (sounds impossible), he will be called Son of the Most High (sounds a little blasphemous), and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever (sounds both impossible and maybe a little blasphemous). Even if she could intellectually understand what was being asked of her, the emotional heft of accepting it is superhuman. Every side of this situation is impossible. If Gabriel wants to successfully invite Mary to accept her call, he’s floundering.
The third time Gabriel speaks, he shifts his approach. He assures Mary that the Holy Spirit is with her. He promises that the Most High is so present that God’s power will overshadow her. He tells her that her cousin Elizabeth is in similarly extraordinary circumstances.
Don’t be afraid. You are not alone.
And Mary says yes. She must at least suspect her world as she knows it is ending. She also knows God is with her, and that Elizabeth will walk the way with her. So, she sets out on an entirely unknown path. She says, “May it be done to me according to your word.”
The pattern continues: throughout her Son’s remarkable life, Mary repeats this same “yes” through her faithful presence. Perhaps, standing over the manger and from the foot of the cross, she looked at her Son and said, “Don’t be afraid. You are not alone.”
Mary stands with us, too, her constant presence echoing that of the One who, having become one of us, is decidedly part of us. She points us to Christ, always to Christ, who abides with us, who walks our ways with us through great joy and harrowing sorrow. Just as Elizabeth gave Mary strength as she prepared for Christ’s coming, Mary’s presence gives us courage as we do the same.
We seek that strength in each other. It must delight our mother to see how often we come to her together—droves of pilgrims at Tepeyac, crowds at Notre Dame’s Grotto, families saying the rosary. When the days grow short, we draw together—we remind each other of our great hope, and strange, unearthly anticipation envelops us. Mary knows what it is to wait: joyful anticipation mingled with wonder and a little trembling. She knows that company makes it possible to attempt what seems incomprehensible, that presence makes transformative what seems unbearable. I’m not very strong, but with the right company, I think I could withstand anything.
Sometimes darkness envelops our lives just as completely as these long, winter nights. Even if we intellectually understand that light will come, the emotional heft of accepting it seems superhuman at times. When the night creeps inward, Mary appears among us and assures us that Jesus is present. In the light of this courage and strength, what incomprehensible endeavors will we dare to undertake?
Don’t be afraid. We are not alone.
By Bradley Gregory ‘09Ph.D.
When it comes to God’s involvement with the world, why do we ask the questions we do? What do our questions reveal about us? Are they an attempt to hedge against the unknown? Are they asked out of an uneasiness with God’s freedom to do the unexpected? Does our willingness to be open to what God is doing have strings attached? Is our response conditioned by whether it benefits us personally? Or do we ask them because of an openness to what God is doing in our world? Do we ask so that we might follow? When God moves will our response be cautious suspicion or receptive faith? Read more>
By Kirstin Krueger Apker '03, '07 M.T.S.
Are we perhaps called to be prophets ourselves, to make straight the Lord's path within our own families and communities by both speaking and acting boldly to promote charity and justice, even when we may not be taken seriously? Read more>
By Father Patrick Hannon, C.S.C., ‘88M.Div.
We have been enlisted not just as lovers and dreamers, but also as lookouts—we happy insomniacs, who take it as our special charge to scan the horizon at 3 a.m., peer into the faintly erupting dawn, and look for any sign, any hint, any vibration of a galloping God. Read more>