It is a perpetual wonder to me that this day manages to pass by unnoticed year after year – suffering pretty much the same fate as the instruction to bow during the Creed when we come to the Good News that Jesus was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man (I can’t bow! – what if somebody saw me and thought I was Catholic?? I’ll pretend I just didn’t see the red writing). Today is the day on which Christians are called to contemplate two HUGE items of news: the Blessed Virgin’s fiat, and the subsequent Incarnation of the Son of God. Kind of BIG, no matter how you look at it. Mary said “Yes,” and God sent His only begotten Son.
I think it must be because this day falls smack-dab in the middle of Lent. I don’t know about you, but my mind at this time of year runs far more easily along the lines of “Jesus meets His mother on the way to Calvary” than “the angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.” It’s as if we’re attempting to commemorate two very different events in the life of Christ, and our minds just can’t reconcile them, so we let the one slide. After all, Christmas is over….
The celebration of Christmas is indeed over. The celebration of the Incarnation, however, is perpetual, because the theology of the Incarnation is the underpinning of Christianity. No matter what event in the life of Christ Christians happen to be celebrating at the moment, they are celebrating the fact that God became man (wonder of wonders!) so that man could become a part of the body of the second Person of the Trinity (again, wonder of wonders!).
First, to the proposal: the Angelus helps us to digest Mary’s fiat point by point:
The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary: And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.
Read those words to yourself, slowly. Reflect on each passage – this is important! Catholics dwell on this miracle of the Incarnation all year round; we announce it to the world every Sunday when we profess that “for us men and for our salvation He came down from Heaven, and by the power of the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became Man.” The Incarnation is literally the fount of our salvation, for had God not sent His only Son in the flesh, that Son could not have died to redeem us. Mary’s “yes” was the word that made possible the deepest desire of God’s heart. Her humility and her willingness to embrace God’s desire rather than her own brought Jesus to the world. The rest is His-story.
And that matters tremendously for a second reason, not just at Christmas, not just at Easter, not just on the day that we celebrate the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, but every second of every single day of our short lives, for each second brings with it a new annunciation: the annunciation of God’s holy will to us. And each time we give our “yes” to God’s will, we bring the Lord into the world. Although your be-it-done-unto-me’s may not make history as Mary’s did, they will all have eternal repercussions.
Don’t neglect to celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation today. Don’t neglect to celebrate it tomorrow, either. Celebrate every day the wonder of all wonders, that the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and that He continues to dwell among us as His Body continues to say “yes” to God.
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
On the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
Deo omnis gloria!