All in this together
Gospel of Luke
The angel Gabriel said to Mary, ‘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 Feast of the Annunciation comes on the 25th day of the strangest Lent that most of us will every encounter. I am struck, this year, by the insistent certainty of Gabriel's address, an almost feverish prophetic race to the end of time, all depending on this one woman. And then Gabriel left.
How many people today are feeling that weight of responsibility on their shoulders? Anxious that their actions are the right 'next move' in the chain that keeps their family safe, their neighbour fed, their patient well. How many are wondering why them, why now, why this?
Most of us, I imagine. I wonder how many of us, hearing Mary's 'yes' as the 'let's get on with it then' yes of a pragmatic woman of faith, have decided that their actions will prove that 'nothing is impossible to God'.
For it's true that we may feel that the angel has left us. There may be those whose anxiety is driving them to hoarding, and others, whose eye for gain is seeking out profiteering opportunities, and yet others whose sense of invincibility seems to be tempting fate.
There are neighbours, who have never spoken, looking out for each other, social media acting 'socially', volunteers signing up in their thousands, people sewing face masks, children teaching their elders how to use video calling, taxi drivers delivering groceries, key workers across many disciplines working that one more day, school staff caring for children, businesses and individuals making gestures of goodwill and many, many small acts of kindness.
The world is still full of Grace.
Today, Pope Francis asked us all to pray the Lord's Prayer, the prayer Jesus teaches us, the prayer that reminds us we are family. We pray for all who are suffering and all who are caring for them.
Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.