Night Prayer for Holy Week
May the Lord grant you a quiet night and a perfect end.
Each evening during Holy Week
Palm Sunday Night to Easter Sunday Night
Join us for a short recitation of the the
Night Prayer of the Church on Zoom, link here
“You are to conceive and bear a son”
- Feast Day Mass Readings
Today I will try to be open and curious about the signs of God in my life: Today I will rejoice with others from whom good things have happened: Today I will be grateful to God for the gift of redemption made possible by the “yes” of Mary. Today I will allow this attitude of gratitude to inform my actions.
Lord today I ask for
something of the faith of Mary: Faith that will allow me
to perceive your hand at work
in my life:
Faith enough to listen
to what you are saying to me
Faith enough to respond
with a “Yes”
to what you are asking of me
nothing is impossible to God
Today’s Gospel is taken from the first chapter of St. Luke. It is a story with which we are somewhat familiar. It is, on first reading very simple, a tale about an Angel being sent to a young woman who is to be married sometime in the immediate future but is single at the time of the visit.
All the famous art work inspired by the story of the Annunciation imagine Mary at prayer when she is visited by the angel, St Luke’s text makes no reference to this. We can however assume that Mary, reared in the religious traditions of her parents, her family and her culture did pray often. She is, the text tells us, “highly favoured” and “The Lord is with” her. Yet she is disturbed by this very greeting, by the apparent eruption of the sacred into her everyday life: What does this strange event mean: Should she run from the scene? The angel responds to her fear by acknowledging it, and by assuring her that what she is experiencing is God favour, a Divine response to her unremarked but remarkable fidelity to God.
What happens next is a clear demonstration of the distinction between the Divine initiative and human conventions. Mary who is “still a virgin” is to bear a son, and not only that, but her son is to be the Messiah. Mary as a young jewess was reared with the hope and expectation that sometime the Messiah would come but it is reasonable to assume that, not in her wildest dreams, did she think that she would be the one who would make the coming of the Messiah possible. Yet she does not dismiss what in ordinary human terms is an outlandish suggestion rather she grounds herself in the ordinary by remaining open and curious about “how this is to come about” She is given a reply which in ordinary terms sounds impossible, yet she does not dismiss this either. She is truly a woman of faith.
The angel encourages her faith, buffeted now perhaps by a consideration of the social conventions which will judge her very harshly as a source of disgrace to her fiancé and her family, by telling her that her cousin Elizabeth, though too old to conceive a child, is in her third trimester because “nothing is impossible to God” Elizabeth’s rejection as a barren woman is over. Perhaps there is an intimation here for Mary that her coming disgrace too is a part of the plan of God.
I wonder does her joy at Elizabeth’s “good news” and her gratitude to God for what has happened for her cousin facilitate her “Yes” to God: Yes, to being the handmaid of the Lord, the handmaid who made and makes our redemption possible?