SOLEMNITY OF THE ANNUNCIATION
READ: LUKE 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 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." But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God." Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
The Annunciation is the great solemnity where we celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary's "Yes" to God's announcement/proposal that she would bear Jesus. We also celebrate the "Overshadowing" of the Lord over Our Lady, and the conception of Jesus.
The dialogue between the Angel Gabriel and the Blessed Virgin is the perfect microcosm of prayer and our spiritual life. It is objectively an incredible moment, and also a profound example for us. God invites Mary to become "Theotokos", literally God Bearer. She responds in holy fear, humility, confidence, and love, "May it be done to me according to your word.". This is one of the greatest moments of all time. Her "yes" allows God to enter history. To become it's center, it's hinge. Every moment before and since, now can find meaning, hope, and redemption in reference to this one. Mary's body becomes the first foothold of the Kingdom of God on earth. It's first castle and throne. The springboard from which it would spread to the ends of the earth. Not just to every country, but to every heart. In the "overshadowing" of the Holy Spirit, Mary experiences all this both physically and spiritually. The amazing part is, we can too.
Think of every time we receive communion. Father (or the eucharistic minister) is like the angel Gabriel. He holds up the host, and says, "The Body of Christ". As if to say, "Behold you will bear the Son", body, blood, soul, and divinity. Like Mary, we are being invited to become God bearers. His vessels both spiritually, and physically. This should stir our hearts to ask the same question Our Lady does. "HOW CAN THIS BE?". The answer? God has freely chosen us. We are asked to respond, like the Blessed Virgin, with humble acceptance. "Amen", we say. "May it be done to me according to your word."
The miracle of Mary's "yes" to God was it's permanence. Her "yes" stretches through her whole life, in every thought, word, and deed, through the Cross, and into eternity. "Be it done unto me" was (and still is) her foundation, her mantra, her source and summit. It defined her. The challenge for us today is to respond in the same way. Often our "yes" to God in the Eucharist only lasts until we walk out the door of the Church. Some of us don't even make it to the pew before we let meanness, lust, anxiety, or fear take over. Let's take time to reflect today on the amazing privilege of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. Let's take time to prepare to receive Him again. Finally, let's ask Him to help us be like Mary, and enable us to make a more permanent "yes". To not just receive Him, but to bear him out into the world through our prayers, acts of charity and service, our speech, our attitude. To show the world who He is in all things.
Take a moment to reflect objectively on how amazing the Annunciation is.
In what way is my "yes" to God temporary?
How can I prepare myself better to receive communion?
How can I approach Mass in general more seriously?
Pray a decade of the Rosary reflecting on the Annunciation. Ask Our Lady to give you her heart for Christ, and to help us respond to Him with her love and zeal.
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will. Sacrifice or oblation you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me. Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not; then said I, "Behold I come." "In the written scroll it is prescribed for me, To do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!" I announced your justice in the vast assembly; I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know. Your justice I kept not hid within my heart; your faithfulness and your salvation I have spoken of; I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth in the vast assembly. R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
In what area of my life do I need to say, "be it done unto me" the most?
For further reflection: