Feast of the Annunciation of our Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Do not be afraid

One of the constant refrains in the Gospels is the admonition of Our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ: “Do not be afraid.” When the Lord draws near, it is our natural tendency to be afraid. We can be afraid of his presence. We can be afraid of what he might ask of us. We can be afraid of our limitations in the face of the call to true conversion and holiness of life. We can be afraid of our apparent obstacles along the path of our Christian discipleship. As our confidence in God increases, our fear decreases. As our love increases, our fear disappears. Of what are we afraid in our relationships with the Lord? Are we surrounding our fear by giving ourselves in faith?

Henry Tanner’s Annunciation

Henry Tanner created a remarkable painting of the angel Gabriel’s annunciation of the Incarnation. On the left-hand-side of the painting we see a column of light representing Gabriel. On the right-hand-side we see a young girl sitting on a simple bed. From the expression on her face, we see that she was not expecting this encounter, we see that her life is about to undergo a dramatic change. Her hands are clasped together, her face reflects both a curious mixture of uncertainty and a dauntless trust in what God is asking her through the angel’s words.

When God asked the Blessed Virgin Mary to become the Mother of Christ, she said, “Yes.” This was not an easy affirmation; she had not idea what her consent would imply.

However, the Blessed Virgin Mary remembered why. God was calling her: God would give her the strength that she would need. The Blessed Virgin could offer her life in service without knowing the reward, since love is its own reward.

Henry Tanner’s remarkable painting today hangs in the Philadephia Museum of Art. The painting reminds us that whether it is a summons from an angel or a cry from a cranky infant, or a call to help someone in need because of COVID-19, if we remember the “why” behind our action, then that action becomes a prayer.

Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.

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