The Fourth Sunday of Advent 2014 On this fourth Sunday of Advent we are given the gospel of the Annunciation. With this amazing story we are invited into the ‘horizon’ of Mary’s experience. Mary’s horizon of experience was dramatically changed through her encounter with the angel, the messenger of God, and this encounter of hers now lingers in our present horizon of experience as we approach the threshold of Christmas where we are to celebrate the birth of Christ. This event with Mary’s ‘yes’ we hold so dear to our hearts and consciousness…still the incarnation that happened through Mary’s Annunciation is now waiting to happen in and through our lives…she is our icon and so we too are being ‘overshadowed’ by the Spirit, the Spirit that longs to birth forth Christ in us.
For years now I have been moved by Gadamer’s notion of ‘horizon’ and ‘fusion of horizons’ as part of the interpretative process of a text. I don’t pretend to understand Gadamer’s philosophical methodology. However, in what little I have read of his thought I do believe that the notion of ‘horizon’ is a seminal metaphor in approaching Scripture, in our entering into conversation with these sacred texts, a conversation where we are seeking new meaning, transformation, a relationship with the Divine Word. In this conversation it is also true that God, as well, is seeking to become one with us. ‘The Word of God is alive and active’ and it seeks us out across spans of time and culture, seeking to bring more of divinity into our world and at every level of human existence. The heart of the matter is in these words of Doug Christie: to allow our “horizons to be expanded and changed by the horizon of the sacred text” (The Word in the Desert, p.22). As we sit before this familiar passage of the Annunciation how will our present horizon be expanded and changed as we wait this birth of God’s Son in and through our lives?
Our present horizon is shaped by the past: Mary’s ‘yes’ resounds, reverberates in our hearts: ‘Let it be done to me according to your word’…Christine Rogers the poet gives us the fruit of her conversation with Mary’s Annunciation: she pens in her poem these words: “Mary’s willingness was her magnificence” (Upon A Luminous Night, p.9)…To bear Christ into the world: will our willingness, as we encounter God’s messengers in our lives, be our magnificence? Our present horizon is being shaped as we live into this event that happened over 2000 years ago.
Here is an excerpt of how Gadamer defines ‘horizon’: “A person who has no horizon is a person who does not see far enough and hence overvalues what is nearest to him. On the other hand, ‘to have an horizon’ means not being limited to what is nearby, but to being able to see beyond it…” (Truth and Method, p.302). For us: are we so caught in all the daily things that we have no eye or heart for the larger life God is inviting us to? All the mundane realities and preoccupations of our everyday lives can so easily narrow our vision and then we don’t perceive or feel the Spirit’s quiet whispers or very gentle tugs on our hearts. The horizon of Mary’s Annunciation and our present horizon fuse to create something new in this now moment…Her ‘yes’ makes our ‘yes’ possible…her leap of faith opens the way for ours…her gift of Christ is waiting to become ours, yet again. The ‘horizon of our lives’: seeing what is nearby, in the present moment and seeing what is beyond, into the tomorrow: this was Mary’s Annunciation and such is what ours is to be.
I was struck by what Fr. Steve said in his homily on Friday as he commented on Luke’s gospel of Zechariah who had his own encounter with an angel, a messenger from God. Zechariah, Fr. Steve said, ‘lost his voice’ and in the end found it. We see that Mary indeed found her voice as she proclaims her yes…‘let it be done to me according to your word’…Her voice: powerful in its simple utterance, humble, projecting an inner strength. The Spirit hovers over the horizon of our lives and the life of this community. Are we willing to let the ‘horizon’ of our experience be changed and expanded in some new way as we receive the birth of Christ in our hearts and in our midst? Christ will be born…and are we ready to bear his life, his way of love and forgiveness into our world? Will we find our voice anew as we say ‘yes’ to God; will our ‘willingness be our magnificence’?
Listen to Sr Kathy’s talk here