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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Today the Eastern and Western churches celebrate the Lord’s Annunciation to Mary.

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Luke 1,26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,

to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

He went in and said to her, 'Rejoice, you who enjoy God's favour! The Lord is with you.'

She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean,

but the angel said to her, 'Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God's favour.

Look! You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus.

He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David;

he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.'

Mary said to the angel, 'But how can this come about, since I have no knowledge of man?'

The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God.

And I tell you this too: your cousin Elizabeth also, in her old age, has conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month,

for nothing is impossible to God.'

Mary said, 'You see before you the Lord's servant, let it happen to me as you have said.' And the angel left her.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The Liturgy of the Church wants us to remember with a special memory the day on which the angel was sent to Nazareth to announce to Mary that she would become Jesus’ mother. The Gospel does not bring us to the temple in Jerusalem, but rather to a poor abode with a teenager, alone, and with an ordinary name: Mary. The angel enters and greets her. She is a young woman like many others, living an ordinary life in her village. And yet, the gaze of the Lord has come upon her. Since her conception, she was chosen to be the mother of the Saviour. Since her conception, God had preserved her and cared for her; he had to make her beautiful and to purify her from any blemish so that she could welcome the Lord Jesus. This is why the angel can say to us: "Hail, full of grace." Yes, Mary is full of God’s love. In this she is the first of us; that is, she is the one who is able to listen to the word of the Lord most deeply. Upon hearing these words, Mary grows fearful. But the angel comforts Mary: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive a son... and [you] will name him Jesus." In reality, these words upset her even more, in part because she had not yet gone to live with Joseph. So she says: "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel adds: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you." We can imagine the many confused thoughts that unleashed in the heart of this young woman! Mary listens to the angel and obeys: "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word" (v. 38). That girl from Nazareth, the first to be loved by God, is also the first to answer "yes" to his call. Today she stands before us, before the eyes of our hearts, so that by contemplating her, we can imitate her, and we, too, can receive the tender embrace of the Son that fills our hearts and our lives.
She could have said no and remained quiet in her life. She could have done it, certainly, but if so, she would have refused God’s horizons. If she said yes, in the best of both worlds, she would appear to be an unwed mother. But Mary, not relying on her strength but solely on the angel’s word, answers: "Here I am, the servant of the Lord, let it be with me according to your word." Mary, the first loved in such a great way by God, the first of the believers, offers us a model on how to be listeners of the words of God. Her obedience is at the root of salvation. That day, in her ‘yes,’ the disobedience of our ancestors was overturned and the time of redemption was set into motion. Let us learn with Mary to welcome the Gospel in our heart and we will participate in the mystery of salvation.

Memory of the Church