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The Annunciation – A Walk by Faith


If you have ever had the experience of being blindfolded and led around by another, you can understand how hesitant we are to “walk by faith.” It is daunting to have to trust another person completely. A person undergoing major surgery, for example, must have great faith in the doctors and other medical professionals who will take part in carrying out the procedure. Parents, too, must have great faith the first time they leave their child in the care of a babysitter. Letting go of one’s power and placing total trust in another person is difficult. Often, people are more comfortable trusting themselves than trusting others.
 
In view of this natural hesitation concerning the challenges of everyday life, imagine how difficult it must have been for a girl who may have been in her teens to accept an announcement, made by an angel, that she was to be the mother of the Son of God! She was evidently a person of prayer, undefiled by sin. But still, it was a great test of faith for her to be given this news and to respond—not only with, “How can this be?” but also with, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). What courage! What dedication! What strong faith!
 
Yet, Mary, a young Jewish woman of the first century, belonged to a people of faith whose living memory of God’s fidelity to them as his “chosen people” gave meaning and context to their daily lives. Mary’s faith-filled response to God was spoken within a long tradition of women, chosen and empowered by God, to be instrumental in salvation history. Mary knew the stories of her people, including stories of Miriam, Rachel, Rebecca, Ruth and Naomi, and Hannah—stories of faith in God’s saving power made flesh in “ordinary” lives.
 
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church points out, “The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith” (CCC, 148). Mary, after receiving the news of the annunciation, did not leave herself time for worry and self-doubt. She expressed the communal dimension of faith in reaching out to another, her cousin Elizabeth, who was also with child by God’s grace. (cf. Luke 1:39-45). Faith is meant to be shared. It is strengthened by service to others.
 
– In time of trouble or doubt, has service to others ever strengthened your faith?
 
Reflection by John Phalen, CSC, adapted from RENEW International’s At Prayer With Mary.

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