Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
(Isaiah 7:10-14.8:10; Hebrews 10:4-10; Luke 1:26-38)
A movie of a couple years back features a young man sailing his boat around the world. He is friendly and, of course, resourceful. At one point he explains why he is not pursuing a career like most people his age. He says that he was studying at the British naval academy with his father’s blessing. Then, he adds, he decided he wanted to live his own life, not his father’s. The remark distances this young man not only from his father but also from the two prominent figures of today’s Scripture readings.
The Letter to the Hebrews explains how animal sacrifices could not take away sins. They pretend to be a self-donation of the person making an offering. But they always turn out more like a tit-for-tat deal bartering with God for cancellation of a debt. Christ, however, did make a worthy sacrifice when he gave himself up to death according to his Father’s will. Without sin himself, his sacrifice on the cross purged the sins of all his followers. Mary in the gospel passage likewise sacrifices herself to do the will of God. Being chosen to give birth virginally may sound like an exciting opportunity. But to a devout Jewish maiden of the first century it must have seemed very strange. Yet Mary accedes to God’s request.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to make choices for ourselves if those choices conform to God’s will for us. Sooner or later, however, we can count on God calling us to do something we would rather not do. Then as followers of Jesus, we must imitate his obedience to the Father’s will. It may be something as simple as passing by an invitation to a baseball game to assist a sick cousin. In any case we are to do what God wills, not what we will.