A Reflection on the Announcement to Mary by Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL
In the Maronite Church, we are in the Liturgical Season of the Happy Announcements (Syriac: Sooborey), which are six Sundays that prepare us for the Glorious Birth of Our Lord. We celebrated this past Sunday, the Angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary, also known as the Annunciation (cf. Luke 1: 26 – 38).
Speaking personally, I know that I am so familiar with the story that sometimes I can gloss over its great significance, especially when I look at the person of Mary.
By her ‘yes’ to God, her yes, I will be the Mother of Your Son, Mary made a total gift of herself to God and humanity. She held nothing back, she gave all – body and soul, and she gave without hesitation or delay. I think what I often miss in this Gospel story is that underpinning Mary’s ‘yes’ was her complete trust in God.
Trust! That is difficult for us humans to do. As a result of sin and its consequences, we struggle not only to trust God, but each other. Now Mary was sinless, but that’s not why she had complete trust in God. I’m sure on a natural level, a human level, she had questions, “How is Joseph going to take this?”, What about if I become the object of slander and gossip in Nazareth?”, “What about if I bring shame on my elderly parents?”, “Who is going to help me raise this baby?” and so forth.
All of these questions would have crossed her mind at one point, but she silences them all with her deep trust in God, who she knows intimately as a Good Father. “God will take care of me, He will take care of everything because as the Angel said to me, nothing is impossible with God”. The Angel’s words to Mary must have been a great comfort to her, as they are to all of us today.
Sometimes, when I am faced with a difficult situation, or a trial, or a problem of some sort, I can be torn between two very different reactions. On the one hand, there is one part of me that says, ‘go and take this issue to God, He will take care of it because it is beyond your control’. But there is another part of me (a very human part) that doubts and questions when I consider the magnitude of the problem or trial I am facing, ‘How is God going to fix this? Is He even listening to me?’
When these kinds of doubts and questions arise, it becomes very difficult for me (and us) to give a wholehearted ‘yes’ to God as Mary did. The remedy is TRUST. I’ve discovered that trust is a choice, it’s a decision that has nothing to do with feelings or emotions, and it’s like a muscle that needs to be stretched and exercised like any other.
I make little Acts of Trust everyday and I encourage you to do the same. When even a small, seemingly insignificant inconvenience arises in your day (as they do in mine), like being stuck in traffic, or spilling your coffee, or getting caught in the rain without an umbrella, make an Act of Trust – “Jesus, right now, I want to trust You. Jesus, take care of this situation for me. Mary, help me to trust God right now with this issue”. I repeat this prayer every time I feel myself becoming worked up or anxious about the same issue that keeps bothering me. I’ve personally noticed that the more I flex my ‘trust muscle’, the more I have seen God intervene in a truly wonderful and personal way, as He did for Mary, and I know He will do for you.