Done to me
Thursday, December 8, 2011
The angel Gabriel said to the virgin, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord thy God is with thee. Blessed art thou among women … Do not be afraid … You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus … The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you … Nothing is impossible for God.”
And Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be to me as you have said.”
The Lord’s Prayer places Our Father in heaven, a safe distance away. Faithful Mary had her own prayers, which normally allowed her too to keep her distance from God. But today something Altogether Different caught up with her, stopped her in her tracks, and spoke words that immediately changed her life.
For Mary, on this day, God became much more than a topic in prayer, or an “object” of her idea or emotion. God took over. He “overshadowed” her. He “subjected” her to himself. Gabriel knew she was afraid. Of course she was afraid. This kind of visitation is only for a few special others; it happens only once in many many lifetimes. How can it be happening to me?
I will continue to thank God for his presence, and pray for more. Whatever awareness I have, I will ask God to increase. But I have to know that when Gabriel shows up like he did to Mary, the earth will be moving under my feet. My eyes will get wider and wider. And I will be afraid.
Gabriel calmed Mary’s fear with his words and, I am sure, the tone of his voice. Then she asked good questions and he answered them. She began to settle into her new world. Overwhelmed she might be, overshadowed she might become, but Mary’s words became more and more true in her life: “May it be to me as you have said.”
God changed places with Mary. She was no longer in charge of her life; He was. What she had only conceived as an idea before, now she has seen and heard and felt. She knew God to be true now in the center of her being.
This is the stuff that dreams are made of. It doesn’t get any better than this. Let my fear take its rightful place, somewhere in the back of the room. When God makes it clear what His place is in my life, I want to be ready.
Jesus, fruit of Mary’s womb and the Holy Spirit, you have redeemed us from our sin and wait to receive us at the hour of our death. Show us your presence now, as well as in the future. Give us confidence to receive you, to rejoice in your strength and authority, to be overshadowed by you.