– Solemnity of The Annunciation of The Lord –

‘Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.’  [Luke 1:38]

We do not know where Mary was standing when she encountered the angel. In many classical paintings of the scene, she is standing in a garden or a walled courtyard open to the elements. Imagining she was in such a place allows us to draw a connection in this reflection between three significant gardens in the history of God’s desire to invite us into his plan of salvation.

The first of note is the mythical garden of Eden. In this garden, initially so full of promise and innocence, the wayward Adam and Eve find themselves hiding from God in a desperate attempt to avoid the reality of what they had done (Genesis 3:8-9). God is depicted as being almost bewildered by what they are doing. Sorrow is in the air. He cries out, ‘Where are you?’

The second is the possible garden of the annunciation. Here the woman does not run and hide, even though she is perplexed and may even be a little afraid. Will we ever fathom the implications of her ability to stand her ground and prayerfully consider what God asks of her? Our gratitude to Mary for her strength and courage deserves to be considerable. Her answer to the question, ‘will you take on this role that will change your life forever?’ is ‘let your will be done’.

The final garden is one we will soon encounter again. It is Gethsemane, where it will be the man’s turn to refuse to run and hide. It will cost him his life, yet his response echoes that of his mother all those years earlier: ‘let your will, not mine, be done’.

Each of us is in the garden before God, invited to stand our ground and say ‘yes’ while tempted to turn and run. We may not always fully understand what is being asked of us, which is an undoubted challenge. Faith calls us beyond the reassurance of our ability to work things out. Mary “does not properly understand, but she is free: she grasps only the essential, and she says ‘yes’.” (Pope Francis, Homily, Solemnity of the Annunciation, 2013).


by Shane Dwyer

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