That might seem a strange title for a reflection for the feast of the Annunciation, breaking and entering, but I think it’s apt.
A couple of thousand years ago, a young Jewish woman was going about her normal morning routines, perhaps with a mixture of house and garden work, chatting with parents and neighbours, aware of the local drought, the sickness of a neighbour and annoyed by the neighbourhood’s lack of sleep caused by the Romans’ noisy party the night before, when God broke into her routine and entered her life in a new and powerful way.
That theme of breaking in is often troubling. Think of the burglar who breaks into the home. In these days we are united with those who are suffering the breaking and entering of war with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Any kind of interruption is unsettling at least, and in the case of the tragedy of war, deeply troubling.
But note that Mary remembered in her troubled state that God was present and active: “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
Pope Francis calls for us to pray with him today for Ukraine and Russia, to pray through the intercession of Mary Mother of God for peace. Francis begins this prayer of consecration:
Mother of God and our Mother,
in this time of trial we turn to you.
As our Mother, you love us and know us:
no concern of our hearts is hidden from you.
Mother of mercy, how often we have experienced
your watchful care and your peaceful presence!
You never cease to guide us to Jesus,
the Prince of Peace.”
I’m happy that Mary’s immediate response at the Annunciation was to be troubled.
The messenger noticed Mary’s fear and reacted immediately with “Do not be afraid Mary,” and Mary would have realised that she had no reason to fear because she had already found favour with God and was living with a desire to know what God was wanting of her and for her.
With her encounter with the angel, Mary’s life became an adult adventure of mature faith. In the midst of war and conflict mature faith is required, a faith expectant to encounter Jesus in the midst of conflict. Therefore we pray confident that (in the final words of the Annunciation account) that “Nothing is impossible for God.”
Pope Francis concludes today’s Prayer of Consecration with words that we might make our own as we pray for peace in our own hearts and in those we love, peace in our families and communities, in our country, and in our world:
Through your intercession,
may God’s mercy be poured out on the earth
and the gentle rhythm of peace return to mark our days.
Our Lady of the “Fiat”,
on whom the Holy Spirit descended,
restore among us the harmony that comes from God.
May you, our “living fountain of hope”,
water the dryness of our hearts.
In your womb Jesus took flesh;
help us to foster the growth of communion.
You once trod the streets of our world;
lead us now on the paths of peace.
Complete text of the Prayer of Consecration at this link.
Image above: Henry Ossawa Tanner.