Date: March 25, 2023
By: Jessica C.
“Behold, Elizabeth, your relative has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” (Luke 1:36-37 NAB)
I’ve reflected for some years now on the Annunciation. It is my favorite Joyful Mystery, and some of my favorite Catholic art depicts it. While the thing usually dominating my thoughts is Mary’s yes to bearing Jesus , the Messiah, as time has gone on and many mysteries of the Rosary are prayed, something new has recently come to light in my heart: The words of Gabriel, “for nothing will be impossible for God,” are fixed in my mind like a skipping record. We can not possibly imagine what Mary was thinking when she heard these words because we lack immaculate conception and the visit of an angel, but we can deign to project on her what we would think, and in my estimation at least, those words are so comforting. They are also a call. Gabriel is referring to Elizabeth no longer being barren, which is a true miracle, but what do the words call us to believe about God?
Those words, packed with meaning, were like cold water on my face when I read them this past Advent. Now, of course, nothing is impossible with God. He’s God! He can do anything! But it struck me that in my weakness and preoccupation with things of this world, I forget this. I think I have a handle on how human beings can solve a problem and save people from evils--write to this MP; sign this petition; attend this protest--but in the end, I’m just one voice, and the things that are important to one Catholic woman are quite obviously not important to the mob. I often feel exhausted with trying to live and raise children in this age of polarized politics giving way to hedonism. I feel unheard, insignificant and small a lot of the time. One woman is practically nobody, but one woman with God? Take a deep breath and think about that. Nothing is impossible with God. I’ve often thought, “Who are we to compare ourselves with the Blessed Mother?” From Mary, we know for a fact God can actually do a lot with one woman. But the difficulty, as I mentioned before, is that we don’t have angels coming to tell us exactly what to do, and we’re also prone to sin. So if we aren’t really like Mary, then we look to saints, because they managed somehow to lead holy lives worthy of heaven. They managed to give to God what He is ultimately asking of us. Mary said to the messenger, “let it be done in me according to your word,” as we say in the Angelus, and we can pray that over and over. But what does that really mean? What impossibilities does God have in store for us?
For much of my young Christian life, I fed upon the promises of praise and worship and psalms about God’s faithfulness, and His unwavering love for me. There is nothing wrong with getting lost in the reverie of God’s love, and I still do; but there is something more here in “let it be done in me.” Somewhere along the journey, we must reconcile with reality. Saints are not made when everything is comfortable. As time goes on, it has become increasingly clear that things are not going to stay comfortable for the children of God. One need only glance at their phone to see the many lies taking hold of the greater society. It has been so for a long time, but I can’t help but feel we’re living in a period of acceleration of events.
It helps me to remember that Mary’s reality was a time when her people lived in oppression. Mary’s openness to bearing Christ meant she was open to anything that would come. When she became the bearer of Jesus, she became inexorably entangled in the fact of our salvation and everything that entailed. She had to flee for her Son’s life when the king ordered the slaughter of the innocents. She accompanied Christ in His Passion and Death on the Cross. Letting it be done in us someday may well mirror this and the lives of many saints who brushed up against similar harsh societal barriers to living out their faith.
In a world full of creature comforts and distractions it is really easy to forget about the thing God is asking of us in the message of the Annunciation--to bear Christ. It’s really easy to pray “let it be done in me,” and then shrink back at the call to hard work: when we run into a health crisis and despair; when a loved one dies; when someone in our life asks our opinion and we want to share what the Gospel calls us to, but hesitate because that might put our friend off. Are we ready to bear Christ wherever we go? I’m going to freely admit that I lack the courage sometimes, but in the moments that I have done the harder thing, He has shown up. “Let it be done in me.” God is waiting for us to mean it, and when we mean it, then we can confidently answer the call of the seemingly insurmountable tasks He has for us. Just as he proved to Our Lady many times that nothing was impossible for Him, we can trust that He will do so for us.