March 25, 2020 – Wednesday – Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/032520.cfm)
The first reading relates to us a story of a person who refused God’s offer. Ahaz who was King of Judah was told to ask a sign from God. Yet, Ahaz refused. Why? He was asked so that he may believe in God’s faithfulness and salvation. This refusal of Ahaz was a show of not believing in God and a refusal to trust the Lord. Rather, Ahaz sought help whom he thought was another god, the King of Assyria.
Assyria at that time was politically and militarily powerful. Ahaz thought that by going to Assyria then he will have the certainty of protection and salvation. Judah at that time was threatened by other nations. Ahaz feared that his kingdom will end and his people will perish.
However, despite the refusal of Ahaz, God still promised a sign of salvation. This will be through the participation of a virgin who shall conceive a son, who shall be called, Emmanuel, meaning, God is with us.
This is tells now that even in our unbelief or refusal to believe and indifference to the Lord’s invitation, God is still in our midst. God remains faithful to us.
This is a message to us as we celebrate this Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, to take comfort. Yes, take comfort, brothers and sisters, no matter how much fear, sadness, depression, worries, desperation and anxiety we are feeling at this very moment, God is with us!
Moreover, this prophecy in the Book of Isaiah was fulfilled through the participation of a young woman who took the risk of trusting God despite the confusion, fear and suffering that she was to undergo.
The angel Gabriel, whose name means, “God is powerful,” assured this young woman not to fear for God is with her. The very presence of Gabriel was an assurance to Mary that God was working powerfully and wonderfully with her.
This encounter has become the space for Mary to receive God’s invitation for her, to be that virgin who shall conceive a son, the greatest sign of God’s promise. The refusal of king Ahaz to God’s invitation was now being countered and redeemed through the acceptance of a simple young woman.
Mary’s response saying, “Yes, I am a servant of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word,” was her full expression to participate in God’s action to become closer physically with the whole creation.
And indeed, through the generous response and participation of Mary, the promise was fulfilled. God is truly with us!
This tells us now that our participation is very important for God to fulfill the promise of salvation and restoration, of healing and freedom. Without our participation, God cannot also work with us and through us. God cannot just impose even though God is powerful. God is not an imposing God. This has been shown to us throughout the history of salvation. God always seeks and desires a human response so that the Divine Plan will be fulfilled.
On this Solemnity of the Annunciation, through the person of Mary and her participation, each of us too is called to respond to God’s invitation, to participate in God’s action of fulfilling the promise of salvation, of healing and restoration particularly in these times of great crisis with the pandemic corona virus that has plagued our communities.
This is the invitation for us today. We may ask ourselves, how is God calling me now to participate in God’s plan of healing and bringing salvation to all? We do not have to think of big things or big projects. As we stay at home at this moment, in what way I could help to control the spread of the virus? In what way I could be of help for others or bring blessings to those who are most in need particularly those who have lost their jobs, the hungry and the homeless? Or in what way I could inspire hope and give comfort to those who are afflicted, to those who sick, those who are grieving, depressed and lonely?
These are the questions that I would like you to dwell for today and like Mary, let us also ponder and keep in our hearts God’s invitation so that we too will be able to participate in our own capacities in bringing healing and blessings to others. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR