Posted by: fvbcdm | March 25, 2014

Solemnity of the Annunciation (25 March 2014)

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation.  We call this event the Annunciation since it begins with the announcement by the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, the virgin of Nazareth, that she had been chosen to be the mother of the promised Savior. The very word “angel” means “messenger.” Based on the same Greek word, the Latin-speaking Church early on formulated the word “evangelium,” the good message: the gospel as we say in English. For eighteen centuries, the people of Israel had been waiting for the coming of the Savior whom God had promised. Now, the moment determined by God has arrived. The splendid archangel, one of God’s totally spiritual creatures who form the court of heaven around the throne of the Most High, is sent to earth, to a town in Galilee, and particularly to a young girl probably about fifteen years old. The archangel speaks to her in the most reverent and deferential terms: Hail, full of grace. The Lord is with you.

When the angel calls her “full of grace,” we understand this to mean that she has been full of grace from the moment of her own conception in her mother’s womb, and that she will be full of grace forever. Grace is God’s favor, friendship with the Almighty. The angel goes on to say, “The Lord is with you.” A sublime compliment indeed; not one that we would ordinarily think of as being addressed to a teenaged girl in an unknown village in the north of Palestine, an area of the world not considered important or significant.

The archangel then goes on to explain to Mary of Nazareth his purpose in coming to her. The young woman listens carefully, hardly able to believe that these things are being said to her. Then she asks only one question: How can this occur? I am a virgin. It is obvious that she is speaking not only of the present but also of the future. It is a question of what we would call a vow of virginity. It was not customary in those days to make a vow of virginity, but then Mary was no ordinary person. Conceived immaculate and full of grace from that first moment of her existence, she had evidently been inspired by God to consecrate herself to him by this commitment to virginity. Once she understands that God’s plan does not only not threaten her vow, but rather confirms and ennobles it to an infinite degree, she says, very simply, “Be it done to me according to your word.” By these words, she shows herself to be the obedient mother of the Obedient Son who will obey even to death upon the cross.

Three times a day all year long the Church commemorates this event by saying the Angelus: The Angel of the Lord declared until Mary and she conceived by the Holy Spirit.       Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God Bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.

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