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updated 4:57 PM UTC, May 7, 2024

I am the handmaid of the Lord


In the sixth month... so begins the biblical page presented by the liturgy, describing the Angel's announcement to Mary. In the sixth month, that is, in the flow of events, one of them, concatenated with all the others that precede it, makes the difference: Mary's yes, her adherence to the word of the angel Gabriel.

Our ongoing formation is a continuous proclamation that we receive, in the flow of events, it is something important, or even new, concatenated into the daily routine of living. It is a constant receiving of spiritually and intellectually enriching content, and it generates reflections on our lived experience; it is inserted in the "sixth month", that is, while we are busy doing many things, in the community, in evangelisation, in charity towards the needy, in listening to those who knock on the convent door, in caring for one another, etc.

It almost seems like a disturbance to our work, something that takes time away from the urgencies of doing, and of doing good. Sometimes, unfortunately, it really is: a waste of time and an escape from tasks. Being very busy with many things to do, lifelong learning slips away, without any impact on our lives. It is possible that it happens just like that. And then our lives become impoverished little by little, without realising it.

In the liturgical season we are living, Mary's 'yes' stands out. How much strength in that immediate and lasting decision to accept the angel's little-understood proposal, at a time when we imagine her busy planning the future with Joseph, her betrothed, at a time when - probably - she had other things to think about.

Her prompt reply has a premise: Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord: let it be to me according to thy word (cf. Lk 1:38). She declares herself a handmaid, belonging to the Lord. Here is a key to understanding Mary's ready and fruitful yes, immediate.

Belonging: The profound awareness of belonging to the Lord, to a religious family, to a community, is the prerequisite for the contents we receive to fertilise our lives, while we are busy and carried away by many things. If we receive the contents as mere information and knowledge, they do not bear in us the ripe fruit they contain. In turn, the FP becomes an opportunity to consolidate our sense of belonging; it is the root of fruitfulness and stability in life, it generates deep bonds, capable of giving a clear and dynamic identity. We are servants of the Lord: ongoing formation confirms us in this.

At Christmas time, when we let the Hail Mary flow, we also let the word belonging resound in us. And if the question "to whom?" arises, we can trace it back to the Bethlehem grotto over which shines the star, which guided the Magi to venerate the Son of God.

By F. M.