J.M.J. The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, celebrated on March 25, could well be styled the "Feast of Vocations."
Because of Mary's example. She demonstrated a receptivity to the Almighty's invitation to become the Virgin-Mother of the Messiah. By extension, we can learn how to respond to God in our daily lives, especially as it pertains to our vocation, whatever it may be.
In Prayers and Devotions: 365 Daily Meditations (New York: Penguin Books, 1998), Saint John Paul II noted how important it is for us to accept and live our personal vocation:
"One must accept the call, one must listen, one must receive, one must measure one's strength, and answer 'Yes, yes.' Fear not, fear not because you have found grace, do not fear life, do not fear your maternity, do not fear your marriage, do not fear your priesthood, for you have found grace. This certainty, this consciousness, helps us as it helped Mary."
What Mary did at Nazareth can't be overestimated, and it surely mustn't be forgotten. She freely and joyfully cooperated with the Holy Spirit, thereby becoming a "living tabernacle" for the God-Man, Jesus Christ. Her willingness to bear fruit--the choicest Fruit imaginable--redounds for all ages to the glory of God and Our Blessed Lady's honor.
By cheerfully accepting the divine plan--no matter the sacrifice--means that we, too, will bear fruit in abundance. To bow humbly to the Lord's mighty but gentle hand brings happiness and holiness to us as it did to the Madonna two millennia ago.
Not only is the Annunciation about Mary's humility and openness to God and his designs, but it is also a tribute to the Son of God's willingness to become man. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity--the Logos--became incarnate at the moment of Mary's "yes" so that we might achieve victory over sin and death.
The Annunciation is as much about Christ's acceptance of His Father's will as it is about Mary's fervent desire to submit to the ramifications inherent in the message brought by the Archangel Gabriel.
We benefit immeasurably from following the inspiring examples of Jesus and Mary. They make it possible for us to accept and live faithfully our personal vocation.
The Prince of Peace and His holy Mother demonstrate that unending union with God is the reward for those who embrace the Lord's will and carry it out to the best of their ability.
Undoubtedly, there are many obstacles that can be encountered in our modern age when we try to respond generously and faithfully to the divine call. We may be laughed at or ridiculed. No matter.
The One who calls is the One who preserves us and grants us the grace to answer Him and persevere in our vocation.
Clergy, consecrated, married and single share in the cross of Christ; at times, they will be misunderstood by others for their receptivity to the Lord. But the Good Shepherd will always be present to nourish His brothers and sisters and help them to live their commitments lovingly and peacefully.
The "yes" of both the Son of God and the Handmaiden of the Lord--so simple yet so profound--speaks volumes. We can rejoice that we also are able to be open to God and His powerful plan for us just as the Lord of Glory and that humble Jewish Virgin were so long ago.
(Slightly edited from its original appearance in Catholic Twin Circle on Sunday, March 24, 1996, page 14. Used with permission.)