The Annunciation 2014

Just a few days ago, we celebrated the Feast Day of St. Joseph, my favorite saint. And now we have the beautiful Feast of the Annunciation, in which is nestled the Incarnation of our Savior.

In the Gospel of St Luke, the Holy Spirit reveals the unique importance of the Blessed Virgin Mary in God’s plan of Salvation for us. Let’s see what He tells us: 

 Luke, Chapter 1, 26-35. “And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.

Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a Son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David His father; and He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of His kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word.

In this Gospel, God Himself is introducing to us the delightful creature He loves above all others, this Mary whom He chose from all time to be the most pure and holy Mother of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. God used as His messenger the Angel Gabriel whose name means Power of God. By this He emphasizes that all this, the Annunciation, the Incarnation which began our salvation, all this is by and through the power of God.

And what does God tell us about Mary? Gabriel salutes Mary most respectfully, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women”. You can search the Bible cover to cover and never find a more respectful message from any angelic messenger. This is because, as the Gospel tells us, Mary is truly filled with grace, exempt from even original sin, and full of God’s sanctifying grace.

Note that the very first words of Mary, recorded in this Gospel are, “How shall this be done, because I know not man?” Why these words? Could it be that God wishes to emphasize to us the importance of Mary’s generous sacrifice to live her life in the utmost chastity and purity, foregoing the honors and pleasures of children? At that time, Jewish women were honored to be mothers of many children and to forego children was a tremendous sacrifice. Unlike today, in those times to be a “barren woman” was a reproach. Thus we know that Mary’s generous and sacrificial heart was most pleasing to Our Father. Her words also exemplify her great prudence. Today, prudence is a virtue held in low esteem by most Catholic leaders, who feel compelled to burst forth with every banal thought that crosses their minds. This Blessed Virgin, in contrast, first assured that Gabriel understand that she was and always will be, a virgin consecrated to God alone.

Whereas Eve, the first “Woman”, withdrew herself from her Creator in order to seek her own good, Mary, the “Woman” of the New Testament, yielded herself totally to God, allowing Him to fill her with His life, thus she is “full of grace”. The virtues shown by these simple verses illustrate Mary’s perfect love of God, her total consecration to Him, her purity and her perseverance in keeping her vow.

Mary’s prudent question brought forth Gabriel’s reply, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which wall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Mary’s response was immediate, “Behold the Handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word.” With these words, the Most Blessed Virgin shows us humility and obedience, the two virtues so essential in combatting the vices passed on to us of Eve’s pride and disobedience. In another post, I described these virtues as the “working virtues” because they are so necessary in our everyday struggle to live our lives in constant union with the Holy Family.

In this Gospel passage, Our Lord Himself introduces to us His Mother, shows us her loveliness, her excellent virtues and her unique stature before the Holy Trinity. Thus, He shows us the model for our lives; “here is My Mother”, He says, “see, we shall have the same Mother. She will teach you the virtues necessary to advance toward union with Me, so that we may rejoice together in heaven.”

Sister Lucia of Fatima assures us that Jesus is the very best of Sons, and loves her and those who honor her. Today is an excellent time to renew our Total Consecration to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. By the way, do you know who made the first consecration to Mary? Was it St. Louis de Montfort? St. Dominic? No. Think harder. Give up?

It was our Lord Jesus Christ Himself Who chose Mary for His Mother. From this humble virgin of Nazareth He took the flesh and blood of His mortal life, the very body and blood with which He wrought our salvation. The body scourged for our sins, pierced for our transgressions, the precious blood poured out for us on Calvary’s cross, He took from Mary. To her He entrusted His earthly life, living within her virginal womb, beneath her immaculate heart. Through her, He consecrated St. John the Baptist; through her He performed His first miracle and with His dying words, He entrusted us to her, commanding Her to be our Mother and us to be her children.

And so, the Annunciation and the Incarnation are inseparable, as are Jesus and Mary, those two hearts forever united! And here is a lovely hymn:

Hymn at Matins
The Lord whom earth and sea and sky
With one adoring voice proclaim
Who rules them all in majesty
Enclosed Himself in Mary’s frame.

Lo! In a humble Virgin’s womb
O’ershadowed by almighty power
He whom the stars and sun and moon
Each serve in their appointed hour.

O Mother blest! To whom was given
Within your body to contain
The architect of earth and heaven
Whose hands the universe sustain.

To thee was sent an angel down,
In thee the Spirit was enshrined,
Of thee was born that mighty One,
The long desired of all mankind.

O Jesus! Born of Virgin bright
To Thee immortal glory be!
Praise to the Father Infinite,
And Holy Spirit eternally!
Amen.

posted by evensong