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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Annunciation - Increasing your courage

In today's Gospel passage, Mary has a very difficult decision to make.
According to her society's rules, when a woman gets pregnant outside of marriage, she could be stoned to death for her blatant disregard of the sacredness of marriage.

Surely Mary wondered how her beloved Joseph would react. The angel Gabriel did nothing to reassure her that Joseph would believe her explanation. And at first, he didn't!

What would her parents think? Even if they believed her, what about other relatives? And her friends? She faced disapproval and misunderstanding from every direction. How did she find the courage to say yes to God's plan without reassurance that everything would turn out okay?

I think we all wish that God would describe his plans for us, outlined in 10 easy steps with the end results clearly detailed.

How do you feel about uncertainty? Is it paralyzing you? How do you feel about people's disapproval? Do you have the courage to follow God's inspiration no matter what, or are you waiting for him to reassure you that all will turn out well?

He rarely gives us that reassurance. He prefers that we trust him and rely on him instead. Mary found her courage in God.
Trust is not a feeling; trust is a decision to depend on God's love and power and wisdom.
To whatever extent we're controlled by the fear of the disapprovals of others, this is how much we're not guided by our faith in God.

Today's step forward on the Lenten journey: Here's a simple but powerful way to silence the voices of fear so that courage can grow:
1. Identify what message your fears are telling you. What are you afraid will happen if you forge ahead and do what God seems to be asking of you?

2. Remember that fear's message is based at least partially on falsehoods; ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of all the truths that contradict these lies.

3. Choose to act upon those truths — respond to the truth instead of the fear. Move forward emboldened and encouraged ("in courage") by the awareness that you can safely trust in God's desire and ability to help you do everything that he asks of you. This is the moment of your own Annunciation experience. This is your opportunity to give God your own fiat, your own "Yes! Let it be done to me as YOU say!"

God speaks to us in annunciations every day. If we learn from Mary's example, she helps us to say "yes", and she's available as our nurturing mother and guide to help us live out that "yes."

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