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The Annunciation and the Passion

Following the recommendation of a friend, this Lent I prayed only the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary during the weekdays. When the feast of the Annunciation came around, I was surprised to see how these sorrowful meditations deepened my understanding of Mary’s Fiat. At the Annunciation, Mary did not know the extent of the suffering that would follow. The upcoming hardships were already many: the shame of being pregnant out of wedlock in a small, most likely gossip-filled community; the fear of Joseph’s rejection when he found out; and the burden of being the mother of God Incarnate. It is a wonder that all this was not too much for her to bear.

But imagine if she knew it all. Imagine she knew her beloved Son would be so tormented by the sins of the world that he would sweat blood and pray for the cup to pass. Imagine she knew He would be flogged mercilessly, the same skin she dressed in his youth being torn apart by shards and rocks tied to a whip. Imagine she knew that sweet brow she kissed so many times would be pierced by thorns twisted into a mocking crown. Imagine she knew she would watch her Son fall, time and time again, ridiculed by those for whom He suffers, and would be powerless to prevent it. Imagine she knew she would cradle Her dead son the way she cradled Him as he peacefully slept away the afternoon hours.

In His infinite wisdom, God did not share all these details with Mary when He asked for her trust—not because He was holding back but because He knew He would give her the necessary strength when the time came, strength beyond what she could imagine.

Likewise caring for us, God does not tell us the plan for our lives. So often we ask in prayer to know the future, but we do not know what we ask. Our temporal selves cannot handle much more than the present moment; the burden of an entire life would be too much to bear. Instead, God asks for our trust in the now. If we practice trust in the little things, we can have faith that we will receive strength for the crosses that will come.

Painting: The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner

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