Christian Art | The Annunciation, Joos van Cleve

Man is ordered to the good, the true, and the beautiful because in such things we encounter God. There are many artist depictions of the remarkable moment the angel Gabriel greets Mary and, to her astonishment, delivers God's message that she will conceive and bear a son.  As a devout Jew familiar with the Messianic prophecies she learns she will be the mother of Emmanuel - God with Us - the child who will one day rule all the nations, who will be the light of the world, and the fulfillment of God's promises to his children of Israel.  It is Mary's "yes" that puts God's plan into motion; and in that yes, a "yes" we call Mary's "fiat," we are reminded that God's invitations always invite a response. As my good friend, Patrick van der Vorst at Christian Art suggests, the story of the Annunciation in Luke's Gospel is a reminder that, "We too can be filled with grace and let grace be poured into our hearts, if like [Mary], we listen and respond to God’s message of love." As this Advent season draws to a close, as we anticipate and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ at this Christ's Mass - this Christmas - let us ask the Holy Spirit to open our hearts to receive God's loving invitation meant for all of us - for each of us.  In the words of the late Francis Cardinal George, "When our hearts are open the Lord can change and transform us, so that one day we can speak with love about the One who is love." Come, Holy Spirit! That is a beautiful message of this Advent season.  We must open wide the doors of our hearts to Christ.  Such openness can be our response.  Let us then invite Jesus into that space and ask him to enkindle the dark recesses of our heart to let his light shine and inflame us with his love.  Let us invite the Holy Spirit to dwell within us so that we - body, mind, and spirit - may be a temple worthy of the Lord. Come, Lord Jesus! Mary is the preeminent model of Christian discipleship.  We would do well every day to respond to God with an attitude of expectation - one of active anticipation.  When God's invitation came Mary was ready.  Are we? For a Gospel reflection about this painting please click on the image. Peace be with you! Thomas Disciple of Christ | Son of the Church