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An angel in the bedroom

She is blessed because she heard God’s voice, fearful as she was at the annunciation and yet surrendered. She is blessed because she permits her role as mother to take a back seat over her role as disciple.

An angel in the bedroom

By Fr. Warner D'Souza

(The Annunciation of the Lord- Luke 1: 26-38)
Somewhere in the loud voice of the Church, projecting over the centuries, the big “yes” of Mary, is an adolescent girl who was terrified on seeing an angel. Centuries of romanticising Mary’s ‘yes’ has perhaps taken away from her, the overwhelmingly shocking fear of finding an angel hovering in her bedroom (the bedroom part is prose license). This was big news for Mary and it would take a lot more than a ‘I think you need to sit down and listen to this one’. And yet from this simple Jewish maiden comes the ‘yes’ that gave us so great a redeemer.

Was it easy for Mary to say yes? Did she truly understand what was even going on? To rob Mary of her human emotions and feelings would do grave injustice to her and to us. We usually tend to get to the end of the story, but what about the beginning? This narrative tells us she was ‘afraid’. I guess that’s putting it mildly. She should have been ‘freaked out’, for that’s what happens when you get an angel in your bedroom, news of your pregnancy, an immaculate conception, promises of a great Son of the Most High who is to get a throne and bewilderment, as to what you are to tell your fiancé, parents, neighbours and God knows who else.

It must have been the longest five minutes of her life, especially when the angel is doing all the talking. Yet her two interjections say so much. It reflects her perplexity and it reflects her surrender. This is what gives me strength when I look at Mary; I find encouragement knowing that I too am afraid of the many things that God demands in my life. True I have not seen an angel in my bedroom, but I can’t deny the many callings to serve Him, the many times He challenges me, the many times He harkens me to obedience. Am I afraid? Yes! Should you be? Yes of course!

But then like Mary, we find strength to be faithful disciples. She had to learn it, one experience at a time. Don’t let those beautiful renaissance paintings fool you, for there she is depicted serenely and enrobed in silk. Mary, most certainly did not have it easy. She no doubt faced the ridicule of the village, the doubt of her fiancé, the long road on a donkey to Bethlehem, the flight of fear into Egypt, the panic of losing a son in a crowd, the agony of seeing Him die on a cross and yet, she surrendered. The angel had made a promise, “Nothing is impossible to God”, and she believed.

Jesus acknowledged His mother, not merely for being His mother but for being primarily a disciple. For Him, that came first. To some, as in the woman in Luke 11:28- 29, Mary was ‘lucky’ to be the mother of Jesus; ‘lucky to have borne Him and suckled him’. Jesus’ response is swift and clear. She is not ‘lucky’; she has earned her stripes of discipleship.

She is blessed because she heard God’s voice, fearful as she was at the annunciation and yet surrendered. She is blessed because she permits her role as mother to take a back seat over her role as disciple. She is blessed because she had the courage to stand at the foot of the cross and yet believed in the angel’s promise that Jesus would rule over the house of David. That’s a tough woman and an amazing disciple! That’s why she has the privilege to point us to Jesus and say, “do whatever He asks you.”

Written on behalf of the Holy Spirit

(Fr. Warner D'Souza is the priest-in-charge, St. Jude Church, Malad East) with permission)

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