Monday, April 8, 2013

Feast of the Annunciation


For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.

The Annunciation is when Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her she would bear the Son of God. It marks the ripping of the veil between the physical and spiritual; God becomes human: alive, vulnerable, and dependent on his mother. Normally, the Feast of the Annunciation falls on March 25 (nine months before Christmas Day), but since that was Holy Week this year, the feast was transferred to today. Medieval writers believed that creation also happened on March 25 and that the conception of Jesus coincided with the creation of Adam. It was also an old date for Easter, believing Jesus came into the world and died on the same day, the beginning of spring.

Gabriel’s announcement begins with what is now the first part of the Hail Mary prayer, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” Naturally, Mary is confused by the announcement. How could she bear a child if she was a virgin? How can God have a son? How would she explain this to her family? Yet in a great leap of faith, she embraced the universe-changing news.


Fr. Alban Butler put it this way in “Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principle Saints” (1864): 
“That moment, the mystery of love and mercy promised to mankind four thousand years before, foretold by so many Prophets, desired by so many Saints, is wrought on earth. That moment, the Word of God is for ever united to humanity; the Soul of Jesus Christ, produced from nothing, begins to enjoy God, and to know all things past, present, and to come: that moment, God begins to have an adorer who is infinite, and the world a mediator who is omnipotent; and, to the working of this great Mystery, Mary alone is chosen to co-operate by her free assent.”

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