Ending at the Beginning

Our pilgrimage to the Holy Land is quickly drawing to a close now.  We begin transition back to Tel Aviv tomorrow and then back to the States on Thursday.  It seems like only yesterday we were arriving here!  However, as we were wrapping up tours today, we ended it all with a trip to where it all began, with one young woman, probably age of 14 saying yes to a rather unusual call by God to bear His Son, a visit to Mary’s home, the site of the Annunciation.

There were times early on in the pilgrimage that I was skeptical of some of what the guide was telling us about circumstances and events around the life of Jesus; it’s almost hard not to when you’ve studied so much theology, worked on yourself, even grown in faith and your vocation, and then have it all boiled down to some pretty basic images and scenes where God was doing some of His best work.

The Annunciation has always been one of my favorite passages to reflect upon.  I have to believe that it was Mary’s time to wrestle with God in sorting out what it was that God was asking of her.  It is quite a setting, even today.  The spot of Mary’s home was in one of the tiniest of towns in Galilee with very few people.  It had to be, as it is today, much more communal.  She was not separate from but part of the larger Jewish family, where one looked out for the other, especially when one was struggling in anyway.  Maybe Mary was unhappy with life?  Maybe she thought there was something more that was being asked of her?  Maybe she wasn’t about to settle with just what life was being planned for her?  All these thoughts surfaced as I stood before that tiny home, wondering what was going on in her mind and heart and what would have been going on in mine.

I again, in light of my own faith journey, have to believe that it wasn’t as easy or clean as we sometimes make it.  Wrestling with God is never an easy task, especially when you still think that you may win.  It isn’t until enough space begins to happen, when I doubt that I know better than God, and the desire to live God’s will can begin to overcome that space.  I don’t think any of us who are human and can admit it can say any wrestling with God is easy, and yet it is necessary before I can say yes and mean it over and over again.  We too often think, which can be the problem, that it’s a matter of saying yes and that’s it.  It wasn’t it for the disciples as they stood on this shore and it isn’t for us.  Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me more than these?, Peter is asked three times.

But in that moment of history, this one, young, teenage girl pointed the way for all of us to yes, wrestle and eventually surrender our yes to God and to open ourselves to the desire of the heart to give birth to the Word in our own hearts, lives, and in our encounters in life.  There I stood, in that very place where it happened and where we are all invited to say yes.  Need not worry!  There will come a time again where, despite knowing all these things in my heart, I will wrestle again with God, probably sooner than I’d like to admit, but through trust and perseverance, I know God will win out, and in turn, so will I!

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