When I was a young, self-styled intellectual, I used to think Millet’s painting, The Angelus, quaint, but hardly noteworthy. I was even less interested in the prayer the peasants were dutifully praying at the end of their workday.
Only recently have I paid any attention to the prayer itself. Slowly it has dawned on me that those crafty Catholic priests who taught the illiterate peasants to pray this way three times a day, were actually providing a pithy catechesis with meditative insights into fully living the Christian life by their choice of scripture.
- Summary of Luke 1:28-35 – The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary and she conceived by the Holy Spirit.
- Luke 1:38 – I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word.
- John 1:14 – And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.
This prayer shows all believers how to transform their lives so they can truly be called little Christs. Or as, St. Paul says in Galatians, “and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.”
Mary, a human being like each of us, became the physical mother of Jesus by hearing and wholeheartedly receiving the Word of God into her life. In a similar manner, when we individually hear and accept the Word of God into our lives, begin to reproduce His life here on earth. No one mistakes any of us for the Messiah, but we gradually adjust our thoughts and actions to resemble Jesus more and more here in this place and time. As we become like Him, we bring His kingdom to life now and show everyone we meet how much God loves them. The more we submit to God, the more like Jesus, we become.
Some humans, the Saints, can even join St. Paul in saying that “for me to live is Christ.” (Galatians 2:20 a) All we have to do is hear the holy truth, totally accept it, ask God to become the absolute boss of our lives, and bit by bit, accomplish our goal of living in the Kingdom of God now.
But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
Or, as one old-fashioned Protestant hymn-prayer puts it:
“Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!”