Before Jesus walked the trail between Nazareth and Capernaum, Mary walked around her small world of Nazareth. Around two thousand years ago, Christians believe Mary was given an important invitation at Nazareth. Mary was invited to give birth to the Son of God. In first-century Nazareth, Mary’s unexpected pregnancy would have been a great source of shame for her and her family, potentially even leading to execution. Mary chose to answer the invitation, however, with the words, “May it be to me as you will.” In a time soaked with political and societal fear, Mary made a decision that would send her soaring into history as a saint for thousands of years.
Today visitors from around the world come and visit the Basilica of the Annunciation to remember the amazing journey Mary chose to travel. Enormous beyond Mary’s ability to comprehend, the Basilica looms over present-day Nazareth. The whole world gathers to see unique mosaics donated by various countries, which line the walls of the Basilica and its courtyard. Pilgrims and worshipers, sightseers and historians, gather on the site that has been holy to millions for centuries. They gather to ponder Mary’s decision to trust God, to seek hope when there seemed to be so little.
Hope still fills the vaults of the Basilica as many gather to celebrate the Advent of Jesus. Many languages whisper awe and worship as visitors gather to contemplate the decisions of Mary and of Jesus. The immensity of the Basilica stands not only as a paradox to a young girl who chose to hope, but also as a memorial to hope itself.