The Annunciation 2017

The Annunciation by D. Werburg Welch
The Annunciation by D. Werburg Welch

Celebrating the Solemnity of the Annunciation on the sixtieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome and only a few days after Khalid Masood’s murderous Westminster attack is very poignant. We are asked to think about life when death seems to permeate the air, about motherhood when many are grieving for their sons and daughters as war, famine and disease take their toll. Is there some horrible divine irony in this, or something from which we can take comfort (i.e. strength)?

In the West, it is true, Mary is usually portrayed in terms of motherhood: expectant mother, new mother, grieving mother. It is almost as though she had no existence outside or beyond her role as a mother, yet she did. She was also a daughter, perhaps a sister, certainly a friend, a wife, and above all an ordinary Jewish woman with the hopes and dreams of an ordinary Jewish woman of her time. The invitation to become the mother of the Messiah turned many of those hopes and dreams on their head, yet Mary accepted in a moment of unequalled faith — and in so doing changed the world in a way no treaty or act of terrorism ever could.

The bright hope of the Treaty of Rome for a Europe free from war and division is fading now; the Westminster attack is yet another instance of people choosing to destroy because they hate rather than love; but Mary remains a symbol of hope and encouragement. She is a life-giver rather than a life-taker. She speaks to us of love and sacrifice, fidelity and generosity, and aren’t those things holier and more attractive than their opposites? Her Son offers us a peace surpassing human understanding, the prospect of eternal life, and a joy no one can take from us. Mary’s fiat has made these things possible for us. Let us thank her for that, and ask her prayers for a world that aches for mercy and compassion.

Illustration by D. Werburg Welch, copyright © Stanbrook Abbey. Used by permission.

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5 thoughts on “The Annunciation 2017”

  1. God chose Mary as the channel for His love for us all. In imbuing Her with the life and birth of our Saviour, He set in train the emergence of a force for good forever for everyone. Our Saviour’s​ birth, life in this world, death, rebirth and perpetual life in Heaven is the Lord’s gift to humanity of His grace, peace and love. The ultimate signpost of how the world should live and care for each other.

  2. I thought about Mary quite a lot in our Mothering Sunday mass today. My own mother was unsurpassable as a loving mother to me and I felt great joy that Christ would also have had such love and care, maybe more. The image and theology of Mary is rather lacking in the Anglican church generally, but thankfully my church does accord her great honour…and not in an insipid way. I love the striding Madonna statue outside Salisbury cathedral….for me a perfect image of the loving, and feisty, mother who shows her child the perfect image of love.

    • Yes! I think, though, for those with less happy experiences of motherhood, the way in which Our Lady is presented can be more difficult; and, as for the motherhood of the Church, that can be very dofficult indeed — just as it is difficult for those with a poor experience of fatherhood to relate to the idea of God as a loving Father.

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