In my previous article, I presented the Angelus as a model of the spiritual life, the first phase being to “conceive of the Holy Spirit” by faithfully committing ourselves to the Lord through prayer, active participation at Mass, reception of the sacraments, spiritual reading, works of mercy, etc. I also stated that by looking to the Virgin Mary as our inspiration and our guide, will of necessity require us to take action – i.e., to move from being passive observers, to becoming active participants in bringing about the kinds of change that will rejuvenate our parishes, our Church.
The second invocation of the Angelus
recalls Mary’s humble submission to the archangel’s request:
“I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me, according to your word.”
Scholars concur that Mary was 13-15 years old when the archangel appeared to her, and in the society in which she lived, children did not negotiate for a “better deal” with their superiors when asked to do something. They were expected to do what they were told, no questions asked. So Mary’s reply to the archangel as recorded in Luke’s Gospel makes sense. The Angelus teaches us that it is not so much the miraculous apparition of the archangel, but rather Mary’s response that is important, because her response is what we’re most capable of imitating.
Consider then what God is asking of you! Who are God’s messengers in your life, who are the ones communicating God’s word, God’s will to you? Is it your spouse or partner, your children? Is it your pastor, your neighbor, your teacher or professor, your friends? Could it even be those you consider your enemies? It’s likely all of the above and more. We must realize that God speaks to us through the people and events that make up our lives. We can’t wait for an angelic visitation to inspire us to act. If we do, it will be too late, because supernatural events are the exception, not the norm. We must realize that we are special to God, and needed. When you pray the Our Father and say the words, “thy kingdom come,” do you do so with the idea that making the kingdom come is exclusively God’s work? If you do, you are deceiving yourself. Without Mary’s consent to God’s will, the New Testament – i.e., the testimony of the first Christians would never have happened. My friends, we are the continuation of the New Testament, not as scripture per se, but as witnesses who testify to the fact that Jesus is the incarnate Son of God, who shows us the way to live, reveals the truth about God and ourselves, and bestows life in the fullest measure upon those who put their faith in him.
In closing these meditations on Mary for the month of October, I pray that you will come to know and believe how special, how needed and how loved you are by God, so that you will join Mary in saying: “I am the servant of the Lord, let it be done to me, according to your word.” It is then that the fruit of the Angelus, represented in the final words of the prayer will be manifest in you! “And the Word was made flesh and dwelled among us - i.e., you will be the living, compassionate, merciful presence of Jesus in the world.
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