Today's Scripture Reading Reflection

Creighton U. Daily Reflection

March 25, 2023
by Molly Mattingly
Creighton University's Campus Ministry
click here for photo and information about the writer

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
Lectionary: 545

Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10
Psalms 40:7-8A, 8B-9, 10, 11
Hebrews 10:4-10
Luke 1:26-38

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Pope Francis on the Annunciation - 2014

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

It is a fun quirk of the liturgical calendar that the Solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord so often falls just before Triduum and Easter. The celebration of Mary’s “yes” and the first moments of Jesus’ presence in the world as a member of the human family fold into the highest holy days celebrating the purpose for which Jesus came: his ultimate act of sacrificial love and triumph over death, all to bring the human family into abundant life with him. Exactly nine months before Christmas, our contemplation of the beginning of Jesus’ life overlaps with our contemplation of his death. It’s as if we behold the entire Paschal Mystery in a small prism or seed today: “heaven and earth in little space,” as the anonymous medieval poet wrote in “Rosa Mystica.” It is no mistake that Catholic author J.R.R. Tolkien assigned the date March 25 as the day the One Ring was destroyed and the start of a new age in The Lord of the Rings: the Annunciation, in its smallness, marks the beginning of downfall for dark forces.

There are thousands of artistic renditions of this moment in salvation history. I’ll share three of my favorites. “Annunciation” by Henry Ossawa Tanner captures the smallness of the moment: Mary in her small house, with disheveled rugs and blankets; the light of an angel that does not overcome the space but retains an other-worldly glow; the open attentiveness on Mary’s face and the way she turns toward the angel combined with the confusion, fear, or hesitation in the rest of her posture. Perhaps this depicts the moment between Gabriel’s words, “for nothing will be impossible for God,” and Mary’s response. When I have prayed imaginatively with Mary, there is a deep strength in her posture when she decides freely that yes, she will carry Christ into the world.

I spent two years living and ministering with Clonard Church of the Annunciation in Wexford, Ireland. I love the stained-glass window in the day chapel there (photo below by Paddy Donovan Photography. More here.). It shows a moment after the Annunciation, as the angel Gabriel announced: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” Only, there is no shadow in this window, except from the courtyard walls outside. There is only the dove’s fiery light, and a kind of dance or embrace in it.


Last year I made a pilgrimage in the footsteps of St. Ignatius with colleagues from Creighton and Regis universities. I was blown away by the new mosaics by Marko Rupnik, SJ in the church at St. Ignatius’ Cave (Santa Cova) in Manresa, Spain. In this mosaic series, gold tiles represent humanity’s collaboration with God. A scroll (the Word), a lamb, or the person of Jesus all represent Christ. I especially like that in this rendition, the scroll becomes completely gold when both Mary and Joseph have received an Annunciation and embraced God’s invitation to raise and care for Jesus. Mary also carries a ball of yarn, a symbol of domestic work and her collaboration in weaving humanity and divinity together, which is common in many Annunciation paintings.

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In addition to the Visio Divina above, you may like to listen to a musical setting of the poem Rosa Mystica or Psalm 40. Or, you may enjoy the poem “Annunciation” by Denise Levertov, which beautifully describes Mary’s strength and freedom. Happy Annunciation to you all!

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