In the Gospel stories of the Annunciation, the Divine overshadows something so basically human as conception. Three vulnerable people are asked to deal with the resulting earthly dilemmas: Mary, a virgin, is told she will have a child of the Holy Spirit; Elizabeth, a woman who is old and thought to be barren, is found to be pregnant; and Joseph, a proud man with doubts, is told to trust God and wed Mary who is with child by another.
Societal standards then and now hold these characters to worldly judgments. Each is in a situation that could subject him or her to condemnation or ridicule. Although they face drastic and terrifying changes in their lives, they submit to God’s plan. None knows what will be the outcome.
Whether we take the story for fact or allegory, the message for us is to accept what the Lord requires of us no matter how unlikely or uncomfortable. The angel tells Mary, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” She replies, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”
Most of us will not face such enormities, nor will we have angels to guide us in finding God’s plan. But if we use Lent to reflect, pray and listen, we may discover it.
– Louisa Barker