'Drama' behind the Annunciation

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

(Scroll down for the REFLECTION after the Readings)

First reading, Isaiah 7:10-14,8:10 

THE Lord spoke to Ahaz and said, ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign for yourself coming either from the depths of Sheol or from the heights above.’ ‘No,’ Ahaz answered ‘I will not put the Lord to the test.’

Then Isaiah said:

“Listen now, House of David: are you not satisfied with trying the patience of men without trying the patience of my God, too? The Lord himself, therefore, will give you a sign.

“It is this: the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel, a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.”’

Second reading, Hebrews 10:4-10 

BULLS’ blood and goats’ blood are useless for taking away sins, and this is what Christ said, on coming into the world: You who wanted no sacrifice or oblation, prepared a body for me.

You took no pleasure in holocausts or sacrifices for sin; then I said, just as I was commanded in the scroll of the book, ‘God, here I am! I am coming to obey your will.’

Notice that he says first: You did not want what the Law lays down as the things to be offered, that is: the sacrifices, the oblations, the holocausts and the sacrifices for sin, and you took no pleasure in them; and then he says: Here I am! I am coming to obey your will. He is abolishing the first sort to replace it with the second. And this will was for us to be made holy by the offering of his body made once and for all by Jesus Christ.

Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

THE angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’

She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’

Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

Reflection by Fr Cosmas Lee

THE Annunciation of the Lord we celebrate today is a “solemnity”, a very big feast. No fasting or abstinence is allowed today even in Lent.

First of all, Happy Feast Day to all our parishioners, and especially to the members of our Legion of Mary, the Praesidium of the Annunciation. Have a glass of wine at the family dinner, if you have saved some for these rainy days of the MCO.

Today, we celebrate that first and momentous moment of our salvation when God took flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Incarnation. O the wonder of God’s love which drove the Highest and the Holiest to stoop down infinitely, took flesh, and be humbler yet, to die naked and offered the sacrifice of Himself for us on the cross! If we believe, we should be speechless in the face of so great a mystery of God’s incredible love! 

If we read the story of the Annunciation (above) only casually, things seem to have happened with great ease – Angel Gabriel’s proposal to Virgin Mary to conceive and to bear a son … the troubled question of Mary … the “explanation” of the power of the Holy Spirit, and Mary’s “Fiat”. And we are right.

Celebrating the Annunciation is celebrating the moment of the greatest decision ever made, the Incarnation.

This easiness was brought about by the absolute docility/obedience of the Word, and the utter docility of Mary, the Handmaid of the Lord.

But if we slip into the shoes of Mary, the terror, the drama faced by the Virgin Mary of Nazareth is awesome! Her immediate future is shattered, (the simple aspiration of a girl to love a good man, to be married to him, to raise a beautiful and godly family  …) and she is faced with the real shame of infidelity to her betrothed, pregnancy, the rejection by a conservative community, and yet … the inadequacy, the unworthiness to be the mother of the Son of God …

But the woman full of grace and without sin or obstacle, with no apparent difficulty whatsoever, and as if with the greatest ease, said “Fiat” —  ‘let what you have said be done to me.’

Celebrating the Annunciation is celebrating the moment of the greatest decision ever made, the Incarnation. It is first, the DECISION of the HOLY TRINITY — the Father, the Word, the Holy Spirit; second, the decision of the BLESSED VIRGIN MARY to conceive and bear the Son of God.

This united decision of God and Mary turned the Eternal Word into the “only-begotten Son of God” from thence. We know Him as Jesus of Nazareth, our dear Lord and Saviour. He is the visible sign of salvation given by God (first reading), He is the one who said: ‘God, here I am! I am coming to obey your will’ and offered His body as the sacrifice, not bulls’ blood and goats’ blood which are useless for taking away sins.

What can we learn from this divine decision of the Trinity, the Divine Community of God Himself, happily joined with the decision of the human and sinless (Immaculate) Blessed Virgin Mary? The following:

  • All peoples, created and saved by God, whether they know or believe in the Incarnation or not, NEED to be like God, to be also united and in humility and courage make decisions for the common good of the globalized world.
  • For all baptised sons and daughters of Mary the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of the Church, the first true “Catholic”,  every decision big or small NEEDS to be CATHOLIC (mission for all) driven by the will of God to save all, driven by the divine will for the love and good of others, so that God may reign and His Kingdom be established on earth.

We conclude with the Collect (Opening Prayer)

O God, who willed that your Word should take on the reality of human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, grant, we pray, that we, who confess our Redeemer to be God and man, may merit to become partakers even in his divine nature.

Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

May you too become a bit more divine, seeking to be united, making decision for the true good of all, especially in these troubled times!

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