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Second Week of Advent - Reflection


Hi everyone, this is Sharon, 6 year Associate from Staten Island/New Jersey, graduate of Notre Dame Academy, SI (1967), lawyer and professor at St. John's University.   I agreed to tag team Sister Joan and lead the second week's reflection.  Advent is my favorite liturgical season, because it stars Mary and Elizabeth.  Have a blessed week!

The Annunciation ca.1644
Philippe de Champaigne
oil on panel
28 x 28.75 inches (71 x 73 cm.)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
photograph courtesy Michael Weinberg Photography, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania


For reflection, a poem by Denise Levertov,

The Annunciation

We know the scene:
the room, variously furnished,
almost always a lecturn, a book; always
the tall lily.

Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,
the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,
whome she acknowledges, a guest.

But we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions
the engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent. God waited.

She was free
to accept or refuse, choice
integral to humanness.

Aren't there annunciations
of one sort or another in most lives?
Some unwillingly undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,

More often those moments
when roads of light and storm
open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from
in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.

God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes..

She had been a child who played, ate, spelt
like any other child - but unlike others,
wept only for pity, laughed
in joy not triumpf.
Compassion and intelligence
fused in her, indivisible.

Called to a destiny more momentous
than any in all of Time,
she did not quail,
only asked

a simple, "How can this be?"
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel's reply,
perceiving instantly
the astounding ministry she was offered:

to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power -
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.

Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love -

but who was God.


This was not a Birth Announcement.  It was an Invitation to Birth.  An angel (a/k/a/ "messenger" in ancient Greek and Hebrew) delivered the message and waited for an answer.  Miriam was young, but clearly not naïve and she wondered aloud how this unnatural act could happen.  Apparently satisfied with the angel's supernatural explanation, she gave an unqualified, “yes,” thereby setting the salvation of the world in motion.

How many times are we asked in our lives to perform a task or share a burden?   Modern life coaches recommend that we first respond “Let me think about it and get back to you,” or “Let me check my calendar,” so as to avoid becoming over committed. But how can we ever know if the message is of the supernatural variety? Will we be visited by angels?  Who might they be and how might they deliver the missive?  And how long can we put off God without some serious cosmic consequences?

I have not a clue, but I offer an exchange that occurred not too long ago at an Associate meeting that was also attended by many of our Sisters.  One of the Associates shared how she answered Sister Joan's invitation to become an associate with an immediate and enthusiastic “yes.”  One of the Sisters then asked the associate why she had responded in the affirmative so quickly.  The Associate simply replied, “Mary did.”

How can we stay connected so that we can receive those messages?  What can we do to foster our acceptance of God's will?



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