Monday, March 26, 2007

Annunciation of the Lord

Today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (usually on March 25, but because it fell on a Sunday it is transferred to today) which celebrates the event of God becoming man. This is the day- nine months prior to the birth of Christ - that Jesus was conceived of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the day to which St. John is referring in his Gospel when he writes, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (1:14). The Word, Jesus Christ, became flesh when Mary said “yes” (“fiat”) to the announcement of the angel Gabriel that she would give birth to the Savior of the world. This is the day that celebrates Salvation entering the world.

The Magnificat provides a beautiful reflection for today’s feast:“The Annunciation heralds the beginning of our salvation. By Mary’s obedient ‘Fiat’, the earth has become heaven. ‘In Jesus, God has placed, in the midst of barren, despairing mankind, a new beginning, which is not a product of human history but a gift from above’ (Pope Benedict XVI). With Mary’s Yes, the possibility for us to be truly human – to be God’s – becomes a reality in her flesh and remains as a fact that transforms each of us. All that our heart cries out for became flesh in Mary’s womb. When we repeat the words of the angel by praying the Hail Mary, the Word of God germinates in our soul. Christianity is this never-ending event of encounter with God made present in the maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary”.

God could have chosen to enter the world in any way he wanted. He chose to become one of us through a woman, Mary. He immaculately conceived her who is “blessed among women” (Lk 1:42), keeping her free from any traces of original sin. Mary was “full of grace” (Lk 1:28) from the first moment of her conception and throughout her life so that she would be the perfect and pure tabernacle of our Lord. Just as sin entered the world through a woman, so Salvation enters the world through a woman.

Mary said ‘yes’ to God’s Plan at the Annunciation and her whole life. It was through her yes that Hope came into the world. It was through her yes that Love came into world. It was because Mary said yes that Heaven came to Earth in the person of Jesus Christ. God came to us through Mary; now we go to Him through Mary. True Catholic spirituality, then, is "to Jesus through Mary".

When we reflect on Mary’s yes to God’s enormous Plan for her, we are encouraged and inspired, not just because it brings Jesus to us, but also because it gives us a great example of obedience. God has a Plan for each one of us. Granted, it would be nice to have an angel come and reveal his Plan to us! But, if this simple and humble teenage girl can say yes to becoming the mother of the Savior of the World, then we can say yes to God to whatever He is calling us. When we imitate Mary’s yes, we ourselves bring Jesus into the world – within our families, among our friends, co-workers, and peers. When we are obedient to God’s Plan in our own lives, the Word continues to become flesh and dwell among us.

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