Answering His Call

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Can you imagine being a teenage girl and hearing this news? Of course, we know that Mary was raised by holy parents, and as a result, she was a young woman of unusual faith. She knew the scriptures. She would have been more that familiar with the ancient prophecies concerning the Messiah. She would have memorized the Prophet Isaiah’s in particular, the one that we looked at on Monday of this week.

Still, a visitation from an angel would have been, shall we say, startling at the very least. Then to hear his message. This would have been a great deal for one so young, even if so holy, to comprehend at first. Imagine the angel’s voice as he says to her, “Be not afraid, Mary.” It must have had a tenderness in it. And, he knew her by name. It must have quieted her soul a little bit anyway.

The American poet Denise Levertov wrote a poem about this moment that captures all of the tension and the mystery and the awe that Mary must of felt. I will share the first part of her poem with you here today and the latter part of it tomorrow. The poem is appropriately titled: “Annunciation”

“We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,
almost always a lectern, a book; always
the tall lily.
Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,
the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,
whom she acknowledges, a guest.

But we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions
courage.
The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent.
God waited.

She was free
to accept or to refuse, choice
integral to humanness.”

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Yes, Mary would have been stunned by this request. The most important thing for us to remember is that she was free to say no. God did not force himself upon her, nor does he do so with us. He leaves us free. She must decide her own answer. Her faith, we can believe, would be the driving force behind her answer though. She believed in the promise of the Messiah. In her humility she would, quite naturally, wonder at the simple question, “Why me? I am so small. I am nothing in the world. Why would God choose to honor me in such an incomprehensible way?” The answers are at the heart of her questions. It is because of her purity, her humility, and more importantly, her faith, that God chose her from before the creation of the world. She has a very practical question to ask the angel as well, but we will get to that in tomorrow’s devotion.

It is important that we personalize this event as well. The mystery of it is one thing, but that mystery happens to us every day as well. God comes to us every day and asks us to make ‘incarnate’ him in the world through our bodies, our hands, in service of the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the ill, and the imprisoned. What is our answer. Do we say “Yes!” as Mary did? Or do we say no in a multitude of different ways. Mary’s ‘Yes’ brought the Savior, the Son of God and the Son of Mary into the world. We, too, are called to do the same.

Lord, help us to hear and to answer your call in the humble and faithful manner that Mary did. Fill us with your grace and give us the courage to bring you to the world with our lives every day. We ask this in our name, Jesus. Amen.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.