Posted by: fvbcdm | March 26, 2012

The Solemnity of the Annunciation (26 Mar 2012)

Just a few miles outside the town of Covington, Louisiana, there is the Benedictine abbey of Saint Joseph which offers to its visitors some of the finest murals in our country.  They were painted by a Dutch Benedictine monk named Gregory DeWit on the walls of the abbey church and also of the abbey’s dining room.  I often think of them especially on this solemnity of the Annunciation, the day when the Church celebrates the conception of Our Divine Lord Jesus Christ within the virginal womb of Our Lady.

In one of the murals, the artist contrasts very strikingly the two women: Eve, the material mother of all the living, and Mary, the spiritual mother of humankind.  What a contrast! Eve is shown as a sad, bedraggled woman standing beneath a dead tree where a snake hangs on one of its branches.  She holds a dead child in her arms—her son Abel who had been murdered by his brother Cain.   Eve and her husband Adam had introduced sin into human history, and it began even with her first sons, Cain and Abel, to spread to their offspring and across the world from pole to pole.  The other woman is Mary, the mother of Jesus.  She stands beneath a beautifully blossoming tree, filled with flowers and fruit.

She is a lovely young woman smiling down into the face of her beautiful baby—Jesus—whom she holds in her arms.  Her baby is smiling back up at his mother; he is plump and rosy and the very picture of a healthy, happy child.  As the viewer looks at these two murals, he sees life and death; joy and sorrow, sin and virtue; good and evil.  Without a word being written or spoken, the murals are eloquent and a splendid example of the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Today we celebrate the conception of this child who is called both Emmanuel and Jesus in the scriptures.  Emmanuel means “God is with us.”  Jesus means “God is savior.”  In addition to the other opposing ideas which we have mentioned, we have the all-important one of obedience and disobedience.  Adam and Eve were told by God not to eat of the tree of good and evil. But they did eat of it, and were punished.  Our Lady was told that she would conceive a bear a son, and her reply was “Be it done to me according to your word.”

As we celebrate this beautiful feastday, this incarnation of the Son of God, this beginning of our salvation, let us do our best to obey God as did his Son and his Son’s holy mother. And we can appropriately pray on this day the words given to us by our Savior: “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done.”   Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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