Reflect Emmanuel

December 09

Reflect Emmanuel is a series of Advent meditations on Emmanuel, our God with us

December 9, 2013

Dr. Patricia Rissmeyer, Vice President of Student Affairs

What does it mean to do God’s will?

In today’s reading from Genesis (3:9-15, 20), we find ourselves with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden after being tempted into eating forbidden fruit. Absent from this account is any indication of discernment or dialogue. Eve states that, “The serpent tricked me”, and Adam indicates that Eve “gave me fruit and so I ate it.”

Yet in Luke’s gospel account of the Annunciation (Lk 1:26-38) today, we find a model of humanity, humility, discernment and prayer as the young virgin Mary of Nazareth ponders, questions and makes peace with what is being asked of her by the angel Gabriel. A number of painters have depicted the Annunciation, including Piermatteo d’Amelia around the year 1475. This beautiful painting can be viewed in the Raphael Room at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Piermatteo d’Amelia, The Anunciation, c.1475

I have always been inspired by Mary’s leap of faith and by her beautiful expression of the acceptance of God’s will as she responds with the words, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” I have prayed these words during times when I have struggled to make sense of my own life, to move beyond my self-centeredness and to hear the voice of God.

Today’s readings offer contrasting views of responding to the will of God and invite us to take stock of our lives. Who are the angels, the serpents, and the friends like Eve, who deliver messages and offer us choices? What is the forbidden fruit that tempts us? Do we provide any space in daily life to hear God’s voice? How do we consider God’s will?

May Emmanuel, our God, be with us throughout this season of discernment and preparation.