“Mary, do not be afraid.”

Luke 1:31

Monday, 21 December 2020

Luke 1:26-38

“Do not be afraid.” This powerful story of the annunciation begins with these reassuring words. The movement of God acting on our hearts and lives is often daunting. Sometimes even terrifying. God disrupts our lives and our sense of control to invite us to something beyond what we could have imagined. Mary seems fairly calm all things considered. I wonder whether this deep inner knowledge of God’s invitation came to Mary in a one-off encounter with the angel or whether the story could be a way of explaining a dawning recognition that grew over weeks or months as Mary prayed and lived into the new reality.

The ability to respond to the injunction not to be afraid supposes that we know that we can trust God. Mary would have been acutely aware of the reputational damage and even the possibility of being stoned if her out-of-wedlock pregnancy were to be discovered.  The only way that she could have consented to God’s action in this situation was out of trust in the one who created her. And we can only really fully trust when there is a relationship -when we know that the other loves us completely.

Given the challenges of this pandemic year in our sense of control has been taken away, the uncertainties may feel overwhelming. Can we trust that God is always bringing something new to birth in us, though in the early weeks and months of pregnancy, we may not know what God is doing in us?  God is continually making space in us for God to be born anew. As the mystic Meister Eckhart said: “We are all meant to be mothers of God for God is always needing to be born.”

Gracious God,

We pray for the gift of trust, to know how loved we are so that we can respond without fear to your invitation to carry in our very being God’s life in the world.


Dr Annemarie Paulin-Campbell

Dr Annemarie Paulin-Campbell has worked in the area of Ignatian Spirituality for 19 years and heads up the work of the Jesuit Institute School of Spirituality. Her primary focus is the training and supervision of spiritual directors and the giving of retreats. She is also a registered Psychologist and her PhD focused on the interface between Christian Spirituality and Psychology. Annemarie is an editorial advisor to “The Way” journal of Spirituality and has authored a number of articles relating to the training of Spiritual Directors in an African context. She has contributed to several books, most recently co-authoring a book of Lenten Reflections: “Long Journey to the Resurrection”. She has contributed to international conferences and consultations in Spirituality in the United Kingdom; the United States; Rome; Spain, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

a.paulin-campbell@jesuitinstitute.org.za @annemariepc_c
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