Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thoughts on the Annunciation....

Happy Feast of the Annunciation!

Part of the text addresses the spiritual motherhood of Mary, and how it is related to the physical motherhood of millions of women. In particular, it addresses what it may mean that Mary received the news of her motherhood with love, not fear, and that resistance to fear may well be a witness not only to her love and trust in God, but her immaculate conception....

The book is scheduled to be released at Easter.  More news as I know it!  Meanwhile, from the text:

...[W]e do know how Mary received the conception and birth of the Son of God: and this gives us all the insight we have about her as a person, and her call to motherhood. That is, she did not give in to fear, and lived out her vocation in utter fearlessness. At the annunciation, being approached by an angel and the Holy Spirit, she asks a simple clarifying question (How can this be…?) and then responds “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word.” No flash, no drama, only humble assent. In an age of historical-cultural criticism, we know that the stakes were high for her personally, in her culture: she was betrothed to Joseph but not living with him, and this seemingly illicit pregnancy could result in being stoned to death. Additionally, if it is true that she was dedicated as a child to the Temple as a virgin (as some legends offer), this pregnancy would look to the world like another grievously broken vow. It’s hard to see how anyone in such circumstances would have received this “good news” well.

But the encounter with the Holy Spirit may have assured her and strengthened her to travel 50 miles to tell the other person mentioned in the annunciation, a cousin with another miraculous pregnancy, Elizabeth. And her words are not “I’m afraid,” “I’m so worried,” or even “I’m confused” but:

...My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name (Lk 1:46-49).

That is, her response to Elizabeth’s awe-filled “you had faith” was to redirect Elizabeth’s awe to God: “Look! Look at the goodness of God! Look at what God has done! In me, in Israel, in all the small ones of this world!”

Mary’s acceptance of the pregnancy, the child, and her vocation to motherhood is rooted in a fearlessness that comes from a harmony of body and spirit, and total trust in God. If she was indeed without fear—that psychological consequence of dissociation—then perhaps she saw the birth of her son (whatever that would look like) as work, as effort, as cooperation with the Holy Spirit, but not pain. That is, perhaps she did not anticipate or experience pain because she did not give in to fear, from her acceptance of the annunciation onward. Perfect love cast out all fear.

For Mary, accepting motherhood meant to focus her energy and attention—in her case quite literally and directly—on God, fearlessly and without reserve. This was her untarnished experience of motherhood....