This day commemorates the day, more than 2000 years ago, when a young Jewish girl was visited by an angel, and told she would conceive and give birth to a son. The readings today are among the most famous in the Bible, as God announces to Mary that she will bear His son. I really cannot imagine how she must have felt, what must have been going through her mind. Here she was a virgin, told that she was going to conceive and have a baby. And then of course there is the simple fact of hearing that she’s going to have a baby, never mind the fact that it is the Son of God and that He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Just the fact that she was going to have a baby must have been scary.
I remember when I found out my wife was pregnant with our son, I was of course happy and excited, but wow, was I scared too! The fact that we were going to have this new person coming into our home and that we were responsible for his life shook me up a little bit. It scared me, and definitely got me out of my comfort zone. And while I love my son immeasurably, he’s just a regular person. Not the Son of God! What must have been going through Mary’s mind? How did she feel? Was she tempted to say No? Did the thought of running away from this duty, this calling, enter her mind? Was she tempted to not follow God’s will for her, knowing that this road would not be easy, and that she and Joseph may face danger and persecution? But she followed God. She heard God, knew it was right in her heart, and she did His will.
I know when I think of the Annunciation, like most people, I think of the Angel Gabriel coming to Mary and announcing God’s will for her. But in the second reading today from Hebrews, it talks about another announcement. Yes, there was an annunciation of sorts for Jesus too. This was written in the scriptures long before this, about God’s will for His Son Jesus. At some point though, God announces to Jesus what His purpose is, and what He must do, how He prepared a body for Him to sacrifice and make up for our sins and fulfill God’s covenant with us. At some point, God the Father tells His Son that He must endure unimaginable beatings, pain, and torment, and die a gruesome, hideous death for all of us – past, present, and future. At some point, God tells Jesus that He needs to do this.
Again, I wonder, what was going through Jesus’ mind? What was He thinking? Sure, the divine Jesus knew the goal of plan, and knew His duty. But the human Jesus must have been filled with the same fear that Mary was at her annunciation, and that we all face when we encounter things that we must do, that we know is right, but also know it will bring pain, fear, and discomfort. We know that Jesus was tempted in the desert, but when he learned what His destiny was, whenever that point was, was He tempted to not go through with it? We know that in the garden, the night before He was crucified, He asked His Father to not make Him go through this… But then Jesus says to His Father that He will do His will. He knew in His heart it was what needed to be done, and He did it. He did God’s will.
We all have such annunciations, or announcements in our lives. Time after time, God is announcing to us what His will is for us. Every day. It’s not that God doesn’t want to tell us or show us a sign of His will. He wants us to seek His will. He wants to give us a sign of His will for us, much like what he asked of Ahaz in the first reading today. God wanted Ahaz to seek and ask for a sign of what His will is for us. Ahaz did not want to tempt him, and Ahaz missed the point.
All too often, we ask God for the wrong signs. Signs that he is there. That He is real. Signs that we can see so that we can believe. Signs that He is going to answer our prayer. He’s usually not going to give us these kind of signs. But he gives us other signs all the time. Signs of His will and what He wants each and every one of us to do for Him. But these are the signs we usually don’t want to see, because these signs may get us out of our comfort zone, they may make us nervous, or fill us with fear. Many times we don’t want to hear God’s will. Many times we hear it, but we don’t listen and follow. God announces to us every day what He wants us to do, often many moments throughout the day. He gives us signs, he nudges us to follow.
Sometimes the signs are in fine print, other times they are bold headlines. But they are there, every day. He speaks to us and we know it. He may not come to us in the form of angels, talking directly to us or speaking to us in our dreams. But he speaks to our mind and soul every day and He tells us what He wants us to do. We must have the desire to seek His will in all that we do. We must learn to recognize His will when we see it. And most importantly, when we recognize His will for us, we must do it. Listen for those little announcements in your heart, every day, on what God wants you to do. Seek His will in any decision you have to make, and make sure it is God’s will, not your own. And when you do receive an annunciation, those little announcements throughout the day, don’t give in to the temptation to disregard it and turn away – do it. Follow His Will.