Pope Francis, in a wonderful ecumenical gesture, has invited Christians around the world to join him in praying the Lord’s Prayer at noon this coming Wednesday, March 25. This is the day that we Catholics, along with many other Christians, celebrate the feast of the Annunciation of the Lord when the angel Gabriel brought to Mary the momentous news that she would bring the Christ into the world. In a very real sense, the Annunciation marks the moment in human history when everything changed, the moment when the Word of God took on our human flesh and became one of us.
At this particular moment in human history – when the entire human family is struggling with a pandemic of biblical proportions – this seems like the perfect moment to be reminded of God’s oneness with us in the human family and to let a renewed awareness of this oneness put our fears, anxieties, and uncertainties in perspective. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, she expressed her own fears and uncertainties, but Gabriel assured her that the Holy Spirit, “the Power of the Most High,” was at work here and that she had no need to fear.
We need to let that same message echo in our hearts at this difficult time – to be reminded that God is not only with us, but is one of us, and for that reason, we are not alone in our struggles and challenges. And there is another sense, too, in which we are not alone: it’s our sharing in this great community of faith, the Church. We may not be able to physically gather at this time, but that shouldn’t keep us from experiencing a deep and strong connection to one another in the Body of Christ – in our love for each other, our prayer for each other, and in all the ways we find to reach out and be present to each other.
The angel’s message to Mary was that she had found favor with God and that she need not fear. We, too, are God’s beloved, my friends, and that should be reason enough to let go of our fears – or at least to see beyond them and to be assured that, despite the storm that is raging around us, God is with us.
When we join Pope Francis and Christians around the world to pray the Lord’s Prayer on Wednesday, it will be wonderful to acknowledge together that we are all children of a loving God; wonderful, too, to pray earnestly for God’s kingdom –God’s reign – to come among us more fully, and to pray that God will deliver the human family from every evil!
My prayers continue to be with each one of you.