The Annunciation

The Annunciation is quite a dramatic festival upon which to think about vocation, but in another sense it is as clear a moment as any that there can be.  The Word is made flesh in the womb of Mary, as the message of the archangel Gabriel bringing the word of God came to her, concerning the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.  Mary’s ‘yes’ was an archetype of any person’s grasp upon their humanity, in the process of finding the point of affirmation to a call from God.

The moment of saying ‘yes’ to what we perceive in prayer Christ is drawing us to be or do, is also the time, or one of the most important times, when we recognise what we are: our creation in the image of God.  We are no longer standing outside of ourselves looking at a divinely created world, we are seeing the truth of the liberty and love in which we have been formed, and we are seeing this within ourselves.  It is a discovery of liberty and love that comes with responsibility, and with a realisation that human existence is touched with a love that is inexhaustible and infinite.

These truths are not defined by the Annunciation of Our Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Festival of which is today, but they are illuminated gloriously by it.  The Church has been in some sense defined by the Incarnation, for it is itself of the nature of a divinely in-dwelt body - Christ visible - but it has been caught up at times with the question of Mary, “How shall this be?” and thought biologically and scientifically - but ultimately and inevitably, miraculously.  Yet, the fundamental question is one of faith and wonder; the affirmation before the explanation.

So it is with vocation.  The burning fire of love is what enlivens and consumes.  It is what transforms at the same time as leading us on.  It is within that full engagement of ourselves in the affirming power of love that brings what is poor and weak within us to the moment of letting go.  In this regard the contemplation of Mary’s ‘yes’ to God this day is what reminds us, or helps us to discover for the first time, that Love has no ‘how’ or ‘why’ but only fulfilment; only blessing.

John Mann