MARCH 25: HOMILY ON THE ANNUNCIATION OF OUR LORD.
MARCH 25: HOMILY ON THE ANNUNCIATION OF OUR LORD.
1. Summary of ideas today’s liturgy.
In today’s celebration, we must first highlight the faith of the Virgin Mary in the words of the angel.
- A faith that is not fanatical, but compatible with reason : “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”
- A faith that is obedience to the will of God: Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word (Gospel).
- And that obedience is what Christ had from the first moment of his incarnation: “Behold, I come to do your will” (cf. Responsorial psalm and 2nd reading).
By that faith of the Virgin Mary, the Son of God, by the work of the Holy Spirit, was carried in her most pure womb with love, and God fulfilled his promises to the people of Israel and fulfilled the hope of other peoples in an unexpected way (cf. Preface).
2. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word (Lk 1:38).
In the Gospel of today’s Mass, we contemplate our Lady who was “enriched from the first instant of her conception with the splendour of an entirely unique holiness; . . . the virgin of Nazareth is hailed by the heralding angel, by divine command, as ‘full of grace’ (cf. Lk 1:28), and to the heavenly messenger she replies, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word’ (Lk 1:38).
- Thus the daughter of Adam, Mary, consenting to the word of God, became the Mother of Jesus. Committing herself whole-heartedly and impeded by no sin to God’s saving will, she devoted herself totally, as a handmaid of the Lord, to the person and work of her Son, under and with him, serving the mystery of redemption, by the grace of Almighty God. Rightly, therefore, the Fathers see Mary not merely as passively engaged by God, but as freely cooperating in the work of man’s salvation through faith and obedience” (Vatican, II, Lumen gentium, 56).
- “The Annunciation to Mary and Incarnation of the Word constitute the deepest mystery of the relationship between God and men and the most important event in the history of mankind: God becomes Man, and will remain so forever, such is the extent of his goodness and mercy and love for all of us. And yet on the day when the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity assumed frail human nature in the pure womb of the Blessed Virgin, it all happened quietly, without fanfares of any kind (Navarre Bible Commentary).”
3. God, in his fullness, is in Mary’s womb.
The Angel’s unusual salutation, “Hail, full of grace”, denotes an important truth about Mary’s singular privilege before God, her special dignity and honor.
- The Fathers and Doctors of the Church “taught that this singular, solemn and unheard-of greeting showed that all the divine graces reposed in the Mother of God and that she was adorned with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit,” which meant that she “was never subject to the curse”, that is, was preserved from all sin. These words of the archangel in this text constitute one of the sources which reveal the dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception (cf. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, Paul VI, Creed of the People of God).
- “The Lord is with you!”: these words are not simply a greeting (“the Lord be with you”) but an affirmation (“the Lord is with you”), and they are closely connected with the Incarnation. St Augustine comments by putting these words on the archangel’s lips: “He is more with you than he is with me: he is in your heart, he takes shape within you, he fills your soul, he is in your womb” (Sermo de Nativitate Domini, 4).
4. With Mary’s single “YES” to God’s Will, God became Man, and entered into the history of humanity and the world.
With Mary’s single “YES” to God’s Will, God became Man, He came into the world and physically united Himself with mankind and the moment of our salvation has commenced.
But do we realize that all these depended on the freedom, generosity and obedience of one human being? With this we can unmistakably comprehend why Our Lady, Blessed Virgin Mary, occupies a sublime place in the History of Salvation and is venerated in the Catholic Church over and above any other saint.
- Pope Benedict wrote: “In one of his Advent homilies, Bernard of Clairvaux offers a stirring presentation of the drama of this moment. After the error of our first parents, the whole world was shrouded in darkness, under the domain of death. Now GOD SEEKS TO ENTER THE WORLD ANEW. HE KNOCKS AT MARY’S DOOR. HE NEEDS HUMAN FREEDOM. THE ONLY WAY HE CAN REDEEM MAN, WHO WAS CREATED FREE, IS BY MEANS OF A FREE “YES” TO HIS WILL. IN CREATING FREEDOM, HE MADE HIMSELF IN A CERTAIN SENSE DEPENDENT UPON MAN. HIS POWER IS TIED THE UNENFORCEABLE “YES” OF A HUMAN BEING. So Bernard portrays heaven and earth as it were holding its breath at this moment of the question addressed to Mary. Will she say yes? She hesitates…will her humility hold her back? Just this once – Bernard tells her – do not be humble but daring! Give us your “yes”!…IT IS THE MOMENT OF FREE, HUMBLE YET MAGNANIMOUS OBEDIENCE IN WHICH THE LOFTIEST CHOICE OF HUMAN FREEDOM IS MADE (Benedict XVI, “Jesus of Nazareth. Infancy Narratives, London: Bloomsbury Publishing Inc. p. 36).”
5. Here I am Lord, I have come to do your will.
Dear friends, today’s solemnity is a celebration of the YES of Mary which made it possible for the YES OF JESUS to God’s will to be materialized. God entered the world in a real and physical way, being one like us, sharing our humanity, to lead us to the divine.
Like Mary, let us be docile and magnanimous in carrying out God’s plans for us by saying YES to Him in many little things during the day, knowing that this free, humble, loving and obedient consent to God is the loftiest choice our freedom can do and that in this positive response to God’s will done out of love, we are co-redeeming with Him like Our Mother Mary did. With the help of Our Lady, let us tell our Lord: “HERE I AM LORD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL (Ps 40: 8a;9a).” Let us not forget: “Many great things depend — don’t forget it — on whether you and I live our lives as God wants (St. Josemaría, The Way, n. 755).”
Happy Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord!
Fr. Rolly Arjonillo
TOPIC: IS YOUR “YES” TO GOD’S CALL TO YOU FULL OF TRUST AND CONFIDENCE?
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. We do not celebrate this like we do the birth of Jesus nine months later. We reflect on the great promise of salvation for mankind, initially revealed by Isaiah in today’s first reading, with Mary’s eventual “Yes,” fulfilled in Jesus. The significance of that big “Yes” on Mary’s part is indicative of our own struggle to respond to God’s call to believe and to trust.
SEE AS WELL:
SOLEMNITY OF THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD MASS PRAYERS AND READINGS HERE.
POPE FRANCIS REFLECTION ON THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD HERE.
POPE BENEDICT XVI ON THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD HERE.
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