+ Wednesday – No Mass for Feast of Annunciation – but hope this post nourishes you today
Blessings to you for Wednesday’s Feast of the Annunciation – with our church now closed by law until further notice
As you know, churches now have to be shut and there’s no indoor or outdoor worship, weekday or weekend, regardless of numbers – BUT for this important feast day in our faith, I’ve prepared this liturgy and reflection and hope its serves you in a helpful way.
II encourage you to keep in touch with this Parish Blog space – And I ask you to kindly share it with others. Let’s especially help anyone we can who needs some internet help to know how to access it. I’ve found out just in recent days that there are a number of parishioners who DO have internet but are lacking confidence to easily use it. Let’s put them at ease.
As we continue to respond to the story of our community and world in the coming weeks, I hope we can develop various ways to use this Parish Blog space to serve our parish (and beyond) in some meaningful ways.
With friendship in God’s mission – Paul
A liturgy and reflection for you on this special feast day
+++By the way, the picture on the cover of the post is the famous Altarpiece of the Annunciation – by Fra Angelico 1430-32 (in the Museo rep Prado – Madrid)
+++ And the first picture in the post below is of some famous Altar Servers of Our Lady of the Way
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke (1:26-38)
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’
‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.
The Gospel of the Lord
A REFLECTION FROM FR PAUL – hope this enables each of us to feel a bit like we’re sitting, pondering, in the church, with other members of the parish.
So we know that Mary was a disturbed by what was happening with this message about a pregnancy. AND we also know that earlier in the very same chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Zechariah (the father of John the Baptist) was disturbed when he was told that his prayer had been heard and his ageing wife would bear a child. The angel (the messenger) tells them BOTH, similarly, not to be afraid. And then, the next part seems pretty much the same too; 1. Zechariah asks ‘but how will I know’ that this plan of God will be etc.. and 2. Mary asks ‘but how can this come about’ etc .. Sounds almost identical, right?
BUT THEN !!!!! We’re told that Zechariah loses his speech for not believing – So, what about Mary? Instead, she gets told about the Holy Spirit! (If you want to – take a few moments to ponder what any of this says to you – before I distract you with my next few lines! )
So – any thoughts? If not, something more might have struck you if you’d had the full text of the Zechariah piece in front of you as well. (You might want to grab your bible and find it in Chapter 1 of Luke.)
But in brief, there’s a difference: 1. Zechariah has prayed – AND been answered – AND doubted. But 2. There’s no sense given, of Mary having prayed for a child prior to marrying. So, it’s almost like Zechariah was saying ‘well I’ll pray but unless it’s in my control I won’t reeeaaallly believe it’. AND also, there’s a subtle difference in the kind of confusion they each express back to the messenger! Have a close look … Mary’s is a confusion of wanting to know how she can be part of God’s plan. It’s like she’s saying ‘okay, wow, that’s the plan – but tell me how it is that I won’t be a barrier to the plan!!! Subtly different to that, Zechariah’s is a confusion of how he can get proof of the plan itself.
So, Mary’s confusion is about herself being qualified for God’s stuff. Zechariah’s confusion is more a questioning of God being qualified to satisfy Zechariah’s need for Zechariah’s own security. If I exaggerate, and not wanting to judge poor old Zechariah too much, it’s like he was saying ‘I’ll only buy in to this idea if I’ve got proof up front!’
And no, I won’t judge Zechariah for it – because one of the treasures of the scriptures is for us to identify with the characters! In this sense, Zechariah is you and me – and so is Mary.
+Take some quiet time with these Gospel themes if you can – and I hope my reflections above can support your own.
Prayers of the Faithful
+Now, consider writing a couple of prayers of the faithful and leaving them near your candle or in a special place in your house for the day – For example you might write about the following – Who do we commend to God’s embrace today? What might we as a community ask of God’s grace today?
+In place of the Eucharistic prayer and holy communion today – let us remember that ‘Eucharist’ means ‘thanksgiving’. Could you spend several minutes now, on this feast day of Mary, allowing Mary’s pondering in prayer to encourage your own pondering? eg In the midst of this most challenging COVID-19 PANDEMIC, can we take time to stop and give thanks for several generous or courageous things happening here in our community or in the wider society/world? Let us give thanks together, now.
+After some minutes you might say The Lord’s Prayer – and then slowly use these words of the Mass:
Closing Prayer (of the Mass)