By Mike Punzal
On March 25, we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation.
The Annunciation must be one of the most commonly depicted scenes in the history of art. From paintings, to music, to poetry and narrative, the story of Gabriel’s message to Mary—infused with doubt and belief, joy and sorrow, fear and comfort—has proved to be remarkably generative for both the life of faith and the creative impulse. It is a story sharing space with both devastation and hope, and this means it is a story for all of us, whoever we are and wherever we are in life.
We cannot imagine Mary—comforted here by the angel and comforted still along the way by Joseph not abandoning her, by her shared experience with her relative Elizabeth—as continuously recalling the event of the Annunciation in comfort, ease, and delight. And nowhere do we hear of her being entirely settled, unworried, and confident after her meeting with Gabriel. We cannot imagine that she didn’t have to wrestle through those words of the angel: ‘Do not be afraid, Mary’, each and every day. Maybe even chanting them like a mantra, like a blessing, like a song you can’t get out of your head. Surely, she must have performed her own ‘erasure’ time and time again: ‘be afraid Mary’, ‘be nothing’, ‘be impossible’, ‘and the angel departed’.
Mary’s response was a yes to God, despite her anxieties and troubles. May our response to God’s call be the same. Our Lady of the Annunciation, pray for us!