A Reflection on the Annunciation

Be it unto me according to Thy word

Obedience is the beginning of our life of faith, albeit a hard word for us to accept. God speaks - and we are meant to obey. He spoke to our first parents, Adam and Eve, and they of course disobeyed, which is the story of our turning away from God, but they trusted in His promise of salvation, and eventually salvation came to them and to us and everyone in between.  He spoke to Abraham, who obeyed His call and through faith became the father of believers. We can read the Old Testament as a record of God's speaking in many ways - through angels, prophets; in voices dramatic, or mysterious and even quiet and hidden, and remarkably even through Balaam's ass  - and of the many, important human responses - some made in faith, but others showing faithlessness, and yet still others having some proportion of both faith and faithlessness. Obedience and disobedience, truth and consequences, are played out across the scope of salvation history, but the heart of salvation is found in the grace  of Our Lord Jesus Christ Who in His humanity reverses the disaster that comes to us from Adam's disobedience by His own obedience: he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.

Faith, the Apostle tells us, is almost a synonym for trust. Trust in God. Trust in God no matter how implausible and impossible His words seem. Basically we either trust God, or we do not - and if we do not trust God, we fall back on trusting other persons and things. Ourselves, for example. Our appetites and propensities, intuitions, assumptions, our hunches and biases and 'certainties'....  or our own ideas and opinions. Or perhaps our friends. Or leaders? Princes, sons of men in whom there is no salvation...  Human traditions, persuasive salesmanship. And often enough just plain old stuff. All kinds of stuff: money accumulated and deployed, quality stuff, brand name stuff, security stuff, our-stuff-and-not-your-or-their-stuff. worldly wise programs and policies and strategies. Triangulations. Things - at the end of the day - things not worthy or capable of bearing our trust. Things which build upon our innate, sadly misplaced need to trust in order to deceive and misuse us. Frauds all. Enslaving frauds...  The Apostle writes: Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

In the hymns of the church we sing about the Annunciation: Today is the beginning of our salvation - so we should understand that our salvation hinges, so to speak, on the obedience, the acceptance of the Mother of God, in her affirmation of her trust, her faith in His word.  In her words. How amazing! In her words of obedience. Did creation hold its breath awaiting her response to the Archangel? Is there perhaps a way in which her obedience is an anticipation of the saving obedience of her son and our God?

Christian faith - and our own personal faith - begins with God and his commandments, with trust in God and His commandments. And it grows in our obedience to His word. This is the profound and radical inner, spiritual truth for us to understand in light of the Annunciation. Our spiritual journey - our Lent, indeed our life - will not get any traction until we can say with her: Be it unto me according to Thy word...