Announcement of the birth of Jesus
Today we are celebrating the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord. The Annunciation was the moment when St. Gabriel the Archangel announced to Mary that she would be the Mother of God Jesus Christ the Word made flesh through the power of the Holy Spirit. This Feast is also called in old calendars as the feast of the Incarnation. It probably originated about the time of the Council of Ephesus (c.431) and is first mentioned in the Sacramentary of Pope Gelasius (died 496).
Actually Jesus the Son of God who became man could have taken our nature without the cooperation of any creature; but He was pleased to be born of a woman, the One announced in Genesis chapter three. In choosing her whom He raised to this most sublime of all dignities, He was turning to the one maiden who, by the riches of His grace and virtues, was of all others the most holy and the most perfect. The purpose was to give a Savior to the world, a victim of propitiation to the sinner, a model to the just, a son to this Virgin who would remain a virgin, and a new nature to the Son of God, the nature of man, capable of suffering pain and anguish in order to satisfy God’s justice for our transgressions (from the: Butler’s Lives of the Saints).
Mary, a daughter of God, gives her “Fiat” (Be it done) by which she conceives the Savior by the working of the Holy Spirit. It is because in today’s gospel she hears what the angel says: “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,” (Luke 1:31-33) and then, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God,” (Luke 1:30). But she questions first the announcement of the angel: “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” (Luke 1:34). In this sense she can have refused the plan of God for salvation since she is not a passive instrument. She ponders upon it what it meant (Luke 1:29).
But Mary is really a true hearer of the Word of God. Mary immediately makes a response with faith and trust. She is full of grace because she trusts to what God has said is true and would be fulfilled. She answers: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word,” (Luke 1:38). Because of her fiat to God’s invitation, this makes her the model of faith for all believers.
This Feast is connected too with the feast of the Nativity (December 25) because it was announced to her that through her willing cooperation the Incarnation of God will happen. But this Feast too almost always occurs during the Lenten season which is a time of commemoration of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, as somebody had said that the Annunciation touches both the good news that God has become one like us so that we might become as God is, and the greater news that God, in the person of Jesus, has “paid the price” for achieving this end.
And so, like Mary, somebody said that God’s call comes to all of us in the midst of the full spectrum of joy, suffering, grief and new birth that is present in our own individual, family, communal, national, and global lives. Like for example, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta was an speaker to an international retreat of priests in Rome. She had this appeal to the group of priests: “Give us Jesus, only Jesus, always Jesus.” It is because Mary had brought Jesus to the world, flesh and blood. Can we also bring Jesus to others in our day-to-day lives?
See Today’s Readings: Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
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