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The Everyday Prayer

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

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Even if we have heard this page of the Gospel many times, it should never be taken for granted. The Word of God is always new because it contains in itself the boundless horizon of God’s love, which we will never exhaust with our narrow minds and constricted hearts. To listen to this Gospel page on Christmas Eve is a further grace to help us gather an extra richness from this great mystery. In these days of Advent -as we have been able to see-we have been taken by the hand and introduced into the extraordinary richness of the mystery of Christ’s birth. It is proper to the Word of God to again speak to believers’ hearts; and each time it resounds in a new way, precisely because it prods us to renew our heart, to change it, to make it be part of new perspectives. And this always upsets some. The words of the angel troubled Mary too. The Word of God, in fact, always creates movement inside. When the angel speaks, he does not throw words to the wind; he wants to touch the heart and change it. And this always provokes a "disturbance."
It happened to Zechariah, it happened to Mary, and it continues to happen to each one of us if we listen to the Gospel. But unlike Zechariah, Mary was not just perplexed; she does not interrupt the dialog with the angel. That girl continued to listen to the angel; she did not interrupt the dialogue with him, as compared to what often happens to us who draw back when love becomes too demanding and wants to involve us in a higher plan. We prefer our little and restricted horizons to the greater dream that the Lord proposes to us. And we exchange our greedy laziness with that false humility of those who do not believe he is fit for the call of God.
Mary knew well that she was a poor girl from a forsaken village on the periphery of the Roman Empire. And, even though she was aware of her weakness, nevertheless, she gave her "yes" to the angel’s invitation. From that day the history of the world changed. That small "yes" has changed human history. More than two thousand years have passed from that "yes" to the angel. On that day "the Word became flesh." And Mary has become the first of the believers, the first who has received in her heart the Word of God, to the point that it became flesh of her flesh. She is before us and continues to indicate to us the way of faith which is, precisely, that of listening to the Word of God. Our "yes" of each day continues to change our life and that of this world. Yes, the world’s history changes every time we say "yes" to the Lord who calls us. Let us be accompanied by Mary’s example and with her let us say, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word."

Memory of the Mother of the Lord