Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
(Isaiah 7:10-14.8:10; Hebrews 10:4-10; Luke 1:26-38)
A new coffee filter promises to make better coffee by filtering the water before it touches the coffee grounds. Separating the good from the bad or the true from the false has always been a helpful exercise. It is the essence of discernment which in turn is at the heart of today’s readings.
King Ahaz sounds pious when he rejects Isaiah’s offer for a sign in the first reading. Actually he is refusing to engage in discernment so that he might enter into a pact with Assyria. God expects obedience from His creatures, not sanctimony. The Letter to the Hebrews shows Christ responding in the way God desires: “’…behold, I come to do your will, O God,” he says. The four gospels are in accord that discerning and obeying the Lord’s will is a particular attribute of Jesus. But he is not the only one who does God’s will. Mary, his mother, proves herself similarly obedient. In today’s gospel she discerns the sign of Elizabeth’s pregnancy as a sufficient indicator of what God expects of her.
We often have difficulty discerning God’s will. Signs are ambiguous. The probable results of proposed actions are unclear. Prayer is helpful in such situations as is seeking advice of wise people. We also have to questions our motives in doing one thing or another. Then we act, never doing anything contrary to what we know to be God’s will and always praying for God’s assistance.