Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her. – Luke 1:38.
The scripture for today is the story of the Annunciation. It’s one of the most dramatic stories in the bible that has inspired many artists to paint, write, sculpt, and perform it over the centuries. Just Google “the Annunciation” and you’ll see what I’m talking about. (My personal favorite is by Henry Ossawa Tanner. Look him up!) It’s a great passage to contemplate in the Ignatian tradition (i.e. entering into the scene with our senses) because of its rich imagery and meaning to our Christian lives, especially in this Advent season of waiting.
However, what struck me this year in my meditation of this passage is the final sentence: “Then the Angel departed from her.” What happened to Mary after she said “yes”? Did she ever have “buyer’s remorse” in her nine months of waiting! I imagine this to be like that moment when we come home from a retreat, high from the many graces of our prayer experiences of having said “yes” to Jesus’ invitation to enter into our lives, but then having to plug back into the chaos, noise and busyness of our “world.” I don’t know about you, but I often feel disappointed at how quickly that “feeling” I get on retreat, disappears.
But as my novice director once told me, the spiritual life is not about seeking the consolations of God, but seeking the God of consolations. In other words, living out our faith means trusting that God is with us regardless of whether we “feel” God present or not. After all, consolation is not just a feeling, but more of a movement towards God. The important thing to remember is that God encountered us at all, and to trust in the grace of that encounter to carry us through the chaos, noise, and busyness of our daily living, until the next time we are blessed enough to go on another retreat. Saying “yes” to God is only the first step. How we live out of our “yes” is what is worth our further prayer for today.
Am I living out of my “yes” to God, or am I experiencing “buyer’s remorse”? How can I continually seek the “God of consolation” in my life, rather than relying on the “consolations of God”?
reflected by Fr. Radmar Jao, SJ