Liturgical day: March 25th: Annunciation
Gospel text (Lc 1,26-38): In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young virgin who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. The angel came to her and said, «Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you». Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean. But the angel said, «Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a son and you shall call him Jesus. He will be great and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the kingdom of David, his ancestor; he will rule over the people of Jacob forever and his reign shall have no end».
Then Mary said to the angel, «How can this be if I am a virgin?». And the angel said to her, «The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the holy child to be born shall be called Son of God. Even your relative Elizabeth is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child, and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible». Then Mary said, «I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said». And the angel left her.
«Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you»
+ Fr. Josep VALL i Mundó
Today, we celebrate the feast of the Annunciation of our Lord. With the angel Gabriel’s announcement and Mary’s acceptance of the explicit divine will of incarnating in her womb, God assumes the human condition and nature —«in everything equal to us, except for sin»— to exalt and elevate us as his sons and have us, thus, as partakers of his divine nature. The mystery of faith is so great that Mary, with this announcement, remains appalled. Gabriel tells her: «Do not fear, Mary» (Lk 1:30): the Most High has looked kindly upon you and has chosen you to be the Mother of the Savior of the world. The divine initiatives break the weak human reasoning.
«Do not fear, Mary!». Words we shall often read in the Gospels; the same Lord will repeat them to the Apostles when they closely feel the supernatural force and when they show their fear or fright before the extraordinary works of God. We may ask ourselves for the reasons of this fear. Is it an unreasonable fear, an irrational fright? No! For those who see themselves small and “poor” before God, that clearly feel their weakness, their feebleness before the greatness of the Divine and experiment their nothingness before the magnificence of the Omnipotent, it is a logic fear. Pope saint Leo wonders: «Who will not see his own feebleness in the same Christ?». Mary, the humble town maid, considers herself such a little thing… but in Christ she feels strong and her fear disappears!
Thus, we can clearly understand that God «chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong» (1Cor 1:27). The Lord looks at Mary, sees the smallness of his servant and works the history’s greatest marvel on her: the Encarnation of the eternal Verb as Head of a renewed Humanity. How good Bernanos’ words to the main character of The Joy can also be applied to the Virgin Mary: «An exquisite feeling of her own weakness comforted and soothed her wonderfully, because it was as an ineffable sign of God’s presence in her; the same God shone in her heart».
«Rejoice, full of grace»
Fr, Johannes VILAR
Today, in «Rejoice, full of grace» (Lk 1:28) for the first time we hear the name of the Mother of God: Mary (Archangel Gabriel’s second phrase). She has the fullness of grace and the gifts. It is said like this: “keharitoméne”, «full of grace» (Angel’s greeting).
Perhaps 15 years old and alone, Mary has to answer in a way that will change the full history of mankind. Saint Bernard pleaded: «Behold, the price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life». God is awaiting an uninhibited response, and the “full of grace”, representing all of us needing Redemption, responds: “génoitó”, become! As of today, Mary is freely linked to the Work of her Son; today her Mediation begins. As of today, she is the Mother of those who are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28).
Benedict XVI was saying in an interview: «[I would like] to reawake the courage to make definitive decisions: they are really the only ones that allow us to grow, to move ahead and to reach something great in life. They are the only decisions that do not destroy our freedom but offer to point us in the right direction. Risk making this leap, so to speak, towards the definitive and so embrace life fully: this is something I would be happy to communicate to them». Mary: behold an example!
And Saint Joseph is also included in God’s plans: he has to accept taking Mary as his wife and name her son (cf. Mt 1:20s): Jesua, “the Lord saves”. And He does it. Another example!
The Annunciation also reveals the Trinity: The Father sends the Son, incarnated by the Holy Spirit. And the Church sings: «And the Word becomes flesh today and makes his dwelling among us». His redeeming work —Christmas, Good Friday, Easter— is present in this seed. He is Immanuel, «God with us» (cf. Is 7:15). Rejoice Humanity!
The festivities of Saint Joseph and the Annunciation prepare us excellently to celebrate the Paschal Mystery.