Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

A reflection on the word “IS”

By Mark Szewczak

Mary, the mother-to-be of Jesus the Christ, is seen in a snapshot at the beginning of this prayer. She was a holy, righteous maiden of a poor Jewish family living in an out-of-the-way village.

In the first chapter of St Luke’s Gospel the Angel Gabriel greets her and she was troubled.  Troubled?!  I suspect any of us would be terrified or seized with mind-numbing awe at the sight of a heaven-sent messenger!  Was it the angelic apparition that caused her to be troubled?  St. Luke tells us it was the greeting: “Hail, highly favored daughter.  The Lord is with you.”

The Lord IS with you.  A definite, abrupt, forceful statement that the Creator of the universe is with her, a poor Galilean girl.  To her it was a right now moment. He is right now with her.

Putting ourselves in her sandals for a moment, how could we dare believe the concept that the Lord God of all creation, existing beyond time and space, all-powerful, all-knowing, IS with us?  Like her we live in a world that demands that we earn our bread, feed our children, deal with the hardships and the mundane repetitions of life. Did she ever before confront this incredible reality: God is with her?  Have we?  If we think of it, dare to believe it, what does it do in our souls?  What did it do to her soul as she confronted the immense reality of God with her?

In those few moments with the angel she found the strength to say that most important YES.  She knows she’s not alone.  God IS with her. Her Son came to show the rest of us the same, shocking, other-worldly truth.  His coming foretold in Isaiah calls Him “Emmanuel”: “God is with us”.

God loves us each so completely that He IS with each of us right now, always and everywhere.  We needed Jesus to give us this message and to keep giving it.  Two thousand years later we still have trouble comprehending.

May we remember, in our praying the Hail Mary, the peasant girl who reigns now in heaven who was given the message, was troubled but then said YES.  May we also have the courage to say YES. 

Mark Szewczak has shared his wisdom in this space before. He and his wife Nancy have three children and are studying for the diaconate program in the Diocese of Philadelphia.

image credit: MorgueFile