The Annunciation of the Lord
Isaiah 7:10-14;8:10 + Hebrews 10:4-10 + Luke 1:26-38
April 4, 2016
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.”
This year, the date of March 25—the traditional date for the Annunciation, given that it’s nine months before Christmas Day—was Good Friday. Given the precedence of Good Friday in the Church’s liturgical calendar, the Annunciation has been moved forward this year to today. This priority makes sense, since Jesus was born into this world so that He might die for us men and our salvation. Still, we ought to reflect on how the mysteries of Christ’s conception and birth are related to His Passion and death.
How are the Lord Jesus’ conception and His death related? Are they no more than ends of a spectrum? In fact, both are about new life. They draw out, and celebrate, the unity of the person of Jesus Christ: the unity of his humanity and divinity in His divine Person.
Today, consider a different parallel: not the relationship between the Annunciation and the Passion of Jesus, but the relationship between the Annunciation and the Day of Pentecost. Both the Annunciation and Pentecost are about new life.
Both the Annunciation and Pentecost are feasts which reflect on the act of accepting the Holy Spirit in humble submission to the will of God the Father. Mary is the proto-type of the Church: she is our mother and the Mother of the Church. She who, after questioning, says “Fiat”, accepts the Holy Spirit and bears the Body of Christ within her own body. She is the model for us who will pray repeatedly throughout the Easter Season: “Come Holy Ghost, Creator blest, and in our hearts take up thy rest.”
We have received the gifts of the Holy Spirit in Baptism. These gifts have been strengthened in Confirmation. And so we turn to Mary: on this solemnity of the Annunciation, during Lent and Holy Week, and throughout the season of Easter that began last week. We rejoice with Mary and beseech her: “Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia, resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia. Ora pro nobis Deum.” “Queen of Heaven, rejoice! Alleluia! For He whom you merited to bear—Alleluia!—has risen as He said! Alleluia! Pray for us to God.”