The Annunciation – How to Be Ourselves
“I want to talk to you…” begins a song that was once very popular (“Grace Kelly”, by Mika). Far less formal and reverent than the archangel Gabriel’s greeting to our Blesséd Mother, “Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” it still portrays the idea that words of great import are to come. And while Gabriel goes on to tell Mary that she has been chosen to become the Mother of God, the song continues:
I could be brown
I could be blue
I could be violet sky
I could be hurtful
I could be purple
I could be anything you like…
Anything you like?! Surely to be one’s self would be far more desirable?
And that’s what Our Lady teaches us: how to be ourselves; how to live. And the surest way to be ourselves is to live out our vocation! Vocation: a word that is fast becoming a dirty one in a secular society that thrives on immediate gratification; A word that speaks of something both dreaded and dreadful – constancy. Committing ones whole life to one thing when, at the drop of a hat, one can do something else instead, move somewhere else instead, love someone else instead, become someone else instead? In a world that only claims to thrive on chaos and the ephemeral, why would anyone settle for, let alone strive for happiness in steadfastness?
How, then, does one live such a life? The example of the Virgin Mother is a good place to begin. In the midst of all the challenges we face as Christians, we must never forget the heart of the Christian message, conversion through Jesus Christ, is seen perfectly in Our Lady. That is the path to steadfastness, the path to happiness, the path to salvation.
“I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me.” When Mary spoke these words the whole of human history was forever changed. Surely then, speaking these simple words, proclaiming our own “Yes” would change our personal worlds irrevocably too? The words of Mary were spoken from a heart filled with love for God and came from a pure and humble heart. She was not self-protective, looking out only for her own self-interest, nor was she cynical. She was therefore able to completely give herself over in love, to Love. That is the example of Mary. That is our path to holiness. She spoke these words in Nazareth, and Nazareth means consecration, and to be “holy” means to be set apart, to be consecrated, entirely dedicated to God’s plan for us.
We are called to respond to His invitation to us too, to say “Yes” to a relationship with God. In saying Yes to God, not by saying “I could be anything…” but by proclaiming, “Yes, I can be myself in You!” what I am called to be, we discover the path to conversion, to happiness, to authenticity.
God, who always initiates and then awaits our response, calls us, sets us apart, not to retreat from the transient world to become ourselves, contradictory though that may seem. Instead He wants our unique gifts and personalities, our own distinctive personal histories and backgrounds shape the way we see the world and what we can offer it. God does not call us to become someone we are not. Instead God lovingly calls us to be the best version of ourselves, living our giftedness in the world in the same way that Jesus did. This dynamic leads to a conversation and way of life that is one that travels a heavenly road. Mary shows us that way. Let us choose now to follow her example and to enjoy that happy path.