Choices

NOTE: Tomorrow, March 25th, is the Feast of the Annunciation.

It was a day just like any other for Mary, the young girl from Galilee.

Until –  all of a sudden — it wasn’t.

Out of nowhere, there was an angel in the room, and a shocking offer:   “You will be the mother of the Savior.”   Most surprising of all, there was Mary’s jaw-dropping courage as she accepted this seemingly preposterous proposal.

When I wrote Mary and Me, I talked to Catholic women of all ages about their thoughts on Mary.  A common theme that emerged was admiration for her swift “yes.”  Many women were struck by the sheer boldness she showed at taking on this mission, especially with the limited information she had at the time (I mean,  if you were Mary, wouldn’t you be dying to ask a few logistical questions?).

I was especially struck by the words of Sister Pat, a woman in her sixties who has pondered this moment often.  “It dawned on me that [Mary’s] attitude toward God and the will of God was not an overnight phenomenon but that it had to have represented the pattern of her behavior choices up to that moment.”  I’d never thought of it that way.  It makes perfect sense, though. This was not an isolated “yes” to God.  It was one of many.

This is why the Annunciation speaks to everyone, without exception.  Religious or not, there’s not a soul alive who doesn’t know the experience of facing a choice, of suddenly being at a crossroads.  And the choices we make in the Big Important Moments are so often born from the choices that we’ve made all along, in the little, not-so important moments.  I think that’s why I worry so much when I see teenagers do things like copy a homework sheet from a friend.  “It’s just a little assignment; it doesn’t really matter,” is often their way of thinking.  Many of them don’t realize that the little choices we make in our daily lives really do shape the people we become.  We think that we are making the choices; instead, these choices end up making us.

I have no idea what little choices Mary made in her life that prepared her to make this massive, world-altering one.  But I’m glad she said yes.  And I’m grateful for the feast that we celebrate today, this Annunciation.  It’ll never get old.  It’ll always give me something new to ponder.

Painting “The Annunciation” by Henry Ossawa Tanner

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