When our fellow citizens and would-be politicians announce their intention to run for public office, they make a speech describing who they are and what they stand for. Although today’s Gospel is not about politics, it does announce a new kind of government entering the world: the kingdom of God. We hear how the archangel Gabriel gives Mary his message of the coming Messiah. In this announcement, he promises her and all who will come after her, “The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28).
In the Old Testament, God’s presence wasn’t revealed to everyone equally. Rather, God communicated mainly with Israel’s leaders or prophets. But when Gabriel told Mary, “The Lord is with you,” he marked the beginning of a new era, a new relationship between God and his people. The uncreated, omnipotent God would become Emmanuel, God with us. For Mary, it meant the nearness of the Lord conceived in her womb. For Our Lord’s disciples, it meant an encounter with God made flesh. And for us it means the presence of God dwelling in our hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The angel’s announcement rings down through history to each one of us. At Mass, we are told, “The Lord be with you.” Through these five words, the priest reminds us that God is with us through every experience of our lives—the joyful moments, the sad ones, the difficult ones, and every moment in between. He is with us in our deepest spiritual experiences, and he is with us when we can’t feel his presence at all.
It’s so easy to let this little phrase pass us by, because we hear it so often. But the next time we hear it, let it remind us of God’s constant presence in our lives. Let it be a comfort when we feel alone, an encouragement when we feel discouraged, and a blessing in times of joy.