Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 40:7-8, 8-9, 10, 11
Second Reading: Hebrews 10:4-10
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38
The Annunciation of the Angel to Mary is often associated with the Incarnation of the Son of God. However, the readings today suggest that the main theme is how do we respond to God’s call in our lives.
When the Psalmist (quoted by the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews) says "sacrifice and offering you do not want; but ears open to obedience you gave me. Holocausts and sin-offerings you do not require", we can draw a quick analogy to the life of a married couple. As the stereotypes go, the husband usually earns the majority of the household income, while the wife tends to do most of the cleaning and maintenance of the house. This results in the wife wanting the husband to do more to help out around the house. However, when anniversaries or birthdays come around, what is the primary gift of the husband to the wife? A high-priced present. Has this present changed the situation at all, or has it merely served as a distraction or as a cover-up like a band-aid, in the hopes that the problem of household help will resolve itself? Even worse, sometimes the gift is something that benefits the husband as well! (I say this because I have been guilty of giving self-serving gifts to others.)
The same holds true for the Lord – he wants us to clean our spiritual house. He’s always the one doing the forgiving and the mercy-giving and the healing, and He’d like us to do some of that as well. But what is often our response? A check in the collection basket? A token "offering" during Lent (e.g., "I’ll give up using too much salt," or, "I’ll do sit-ups every day until Easter")? If we’re honest, we’ll admit that some of our sacrifices are really listening to the word of a doctor, more than listening to the Word of God.
What God really wants from us is not only to give up those things we shouldn’t be doing in the first place, but to "help out around the house". Obeying God is what He wants from us more than what we may drop into the collection basket. Additionally, He could use our help around His Kingdom. This could mean helping at our local parish (maybe finding a ministry that could use some more hands). It could be more immediate: literally helping around your own house, as a form of obedience to the vows you made to God on your wedding day to love, honor, and serve your spouse. If we’ve already been working in our small circles of our home (the "domestic church") and our parish, maybe God is calling us further out to the rest of the world.
Now that we have just passed the halfway point of Lent, it may be a good time to ask ourselves: how is God calling me to help out around the house? Once we’ve figured this out, how close are we to responding like Mary, "Behold, I am the [servant] of the Lord. May it be done… according to your word." ?