Season of Joy: Week One – The Annunciation15 Nov 2018
Jesuit Communications offers a series of reflections around the five Joyful Mysteries. This week, we explore the Annunciation.
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Gospel reading: Luke 1:26-38
In the first Joyful Mystery, we enter the Annunciation story. We consider the angel Gabriel’s greeting: ‘Greetings, O favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ We see Mary perplexed, wondering what this means. We hear the angel announce that God’s favour rests on her as the mother of Jesus. We notice that Mary is troubled. Gabriel explains the startling reality: ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you … the child to be born will be … called Son of God.’ Mary considers her response. ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord.’ With her ‘yes’, the Word becomes flesh.
- St Paul says when we offer hospitality we may be entertaining angels in disguise. How does this invite us to change the way we see others?
- Gabriel tells Mary that the Lord is with her. What is your response when you become aware you are in God’s presence?
- This is an event at the heart of Mary’s life and call. Do you have a foundational experience you draw from to strengthen you in your own life mission?
- Mary’s ‘yes’ to God makes all the difference. Is there room for you to give a deeper ‘yes’ to God in order to open up new possibilities for your life?
- The Word became flesh in Mary. How do you notice the Word becoming alive in you?
Reflection: A generous response
Val Flynn worked as a teacher for over four decades in New South Wales and Victoria. She is a member of the Richmond Catholic parish in inner Melbourne. Through her life she has encountered many people on the margins, and she shares a story of what it means to respond to a call – even if it’s not the response one might expect.
Where the Richmond public housing flats are now standing there used to be three houses. There was a tiny little one and then a weatherboard place. The people there were probably on the drug scene, and selling to anyone who came. There was always a changeover of people who were there.
I had a dog that had to be put down and I wanted to bury the dog in the backyard. I rang my sister and said, ‘I’m going to dig a hole in the garden and bury the dog.’
‘You’ll never dig a hole garden, you’ll need to dig quite deep’, my sister said. ‘Go up and ask that Stephen you often encounter in the street. Ask him if he’ll come and dig a hole for you. You could offer him some money or some food.’
I asked him and he said ‘oh yes, yes, yes’ he’d be happy to do it. We decided on a time.
But when the day and time came, Stephen didn’t arrive. I decided to try and dig the hole on my own. After half an hour of digging I came in, sat down, and got my breath back, then went out again. This went on over a period of two-and-a-half, maybe three hours, and he still hadn’t turned up. Each time I’d go out and dig a bit more, and think, ‘oh maybe he’ll come’.
He did eventually come. He said, ‘I’m sorry I was so long coming. I was looking for the Prayer of St Francis. He was the one who loved animals, and I thought it would be nice if we could pray the prayer over the dog.’
And I said, ‘I’ve got it!’
So we finished digging the hole, and said the Prayer of St Francis, and we’ve stayed friends for evermore.
When things were bad and Stephen moved into another place, I called up to see him. And I encountered him sometimes in the streets around Collingwood. We’re still good friends. He’s off the drugs and has survived the worst part of his life. I think sometimes it’s just hanging in there, isn’t it?
I don’t think I have a very strong spirituality about me. But I know I couldn’t live without God. Faith is integral to my being. I think I just go and do what I feel is part of the Gospel. I don’t succeed all the time and fall all over the place and all the rest of it. That’s how I live.
For more reflections, see the Season Joy: Reflecting on the Joyful Mysteries.James O'Brien is an Editorial Assistant with Jesuit Communications.