BARROW: The recipient of the message becomes the messenger
February 25, 2020
When was the last time you received an important message? How did you reply? Have you ever been called to deliver a very important message?
In Luke’s Gospel, the second chapter, the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, a virgin betrothed to Joseph, a carpenter. This Angel of The Most High God was assigned the task of delivering one of the most important messages in the history of communication.
Gabriel gives us a master class on communication. First, be prepared to grab the attention of your audience with a memorable greeting. Gabriel chose to start by announcing his presence with, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” The greeting primes the recipient to shift their focus to the messenger and the message that is to come.
Second, a good communicator anticipates and is aware of their audience’s reaction. The Angel Gabriel likely anticipated that his message would catch Mary off guard and noticed her body language in response to his greeting. He calmed her fears by saying, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”
Now, it was time for the message that changed the trajectory of mankind and history itself:
“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of David, His father, and He will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
Now, Gabriel could have dropped the mic because what more can one say? But as with some messages, especially those that are life-altering, it may be necessary to permit dialogue. Because of the nature of Gabriel’s message, it made sense for Mary to ask a question, not out of doubt, but for the sake of clarity.
“How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”
Clearly, Gabriel had Mary’s attention. What came next was a response by the Angel Gabriel that helped add the clarity Mary was seeking. Gabriel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Gabriel was an amazing communicator and nailed it! He gave the “How It Will Happen,” “What Will Happen” and “Why It Will Happen” in one response.
The desired goal for any communicator is that the recipient is attentive, understands and most importantly, accepts the message.
Mary did just that by exclaiming, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
Mission accomplished. A good messenger not only conveys a message, but if done properly, the message itself can be transformative.
The Blessed Mother, as she became to many of us, remained obedient to this message and remains obedient today. She gave birth to Emmanuel (God is with us) Jesus (God Saves) The Christ. She and Joseph presented Him to Simeon in the Temple, lost Him and found Him in the Temple. Jesus’ first miracle at the Wedding Feast at Cana was performed at the behest of Mary, she was present at the foot of the cross and in the upper room when the Holy Spirit, the Ruah, descended on all those present. Mary fulfilled her Earth promise.
Now Mary, the message recipient from the Angel Gabriel, has become the messenger. By virtue of the numerous apparitions at Lourdes, Fatima, Mexico and other places, she, very much like the Angel Gabriel, has delivered life-altering messages to us. All of the messages she sends orient the world toward her Son, Jesus. They are messages of hope and love, which are for no greater purpose than drawing us closer to the Triune God.
So fitting is every Feast Day in her honor, so proper is the devotion to the praying of the Gospels through the holy Rosary and so blessed is the Mother of Jesus, Our Mother afforded the words uttered by her kinswoman Elizabeth at the arrival of her visitation.
“Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
God has a message for you, too, perhaps a number of them. Today is the time to ask Him what message do you have for me, Lord? And just maybe, God has a message for you to deliver to someone else. Be open, like the Blessed Mother Mary, through prayer and meditation to receive the message God has for you and maybe, to be His Messenger to someone else.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray us, sinners. Now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Our Lady of Guadalupe patroness of the Americas, pray for us.
Doris M. Barrow, III, is the director and campus minister at Texas Southern University Catholic Newman Center.