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Seeing that Mary was troubled by his sudden appearance the Angel Gabriel said to her: “Do not be afraid, Mary,for you have found favor with God.”

According to the internet (so this could be wrong)  the words ‘Be not afraid’ appear in Scripture 366 times–one for each day of the year (leap years included).” (Esper, J. 2001. Saintly solutions to life’s common problems.)

As I prepare for the homily this week it is this line that captures my attention. Mary is a young girl in the Jewish town of Nazareth. By all accounts Nazareth was a small and insignificant village. Mary’s life was planned. She was old enough at 13 or 14 to marry and it is most likely her father had arranged for her to wed Joesph. She would have children and live a life pretty much the same as her mothers.

Then an Angel appears and in a moment everything changes. If she was to conceive a child as the Angel had said then she ran the risk of being stoned or at best cast aside by her husband to be and likely would remain unmarried for the rest of her life.

There was much to be afraid of in this annunciation from this heavenly messenger.

The following clip from the Passion of the Christ is one of my favorites. I have used it before. it captures the very real challenges that lay ahead for Mary as the Mother of Jesus.


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