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Solemnity of the Annunciation
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Opening Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are making all things new within me. I hope in you, Lord Jesus, that your promise of mercy that you have made to me will be fulfilled, in this life and in the next. I love you, Lord, for I know you have thought of me from all eternity, with a special mission in mind. Give me the strength to fulfill that mission!
- God’s Love for Mary: The first thing the Annunciation reveals to us is that God has loved us from all eternity. “Do not be afraid,” the angel says, “for you have found favor with God.” God has a special predilection for each and every one of us, and from all eternity we have found favor in his heart. Let’s take a moment to thank Our Lord for his eternal love, remembering the words of the prophet Jeremiah: “With age-old love I have loved you.”
- Mary’s Mission: God’s love for Mary had a specific and momentous mission attached to it: “…you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.” Mary accepted this mission in faith, knowing that God had prepared it for her. God also has a mission prepared for us. Perhaps we have already discerned that mission, or perhaps we are still searching. Regardless, we continually need to ask God for the grace to say, “May it be done to me according to your word.”
- Love Casts Out Fear (cf. 1 John 4:18): Mary showed that the words of St. John in his first letter hold true for all of us: there is no fear in love. Mary was able to say, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord” only because she was sure of God’s love for her, and because she loved the Lord immensely. Now, we aren’t all the Blessed Virgin Mary, but even our imperfect attempts at love are still enough to cast out the devil’s weak attempts at making us afraid. Lord, keep perfecting our love, so that we may accept your will!
Conversing with Christ: Lord, you know how imperfect my love is. Still, I know you have loved me from all eternity, and that you have created me for a specific mission. Lord, grant me the grace to say with Pope Clement XI:
“I want whatever you want
The way you want it
For as long as you want it.”
In this way, I will be your missionary, Lord, totally open to your will. Fiat!
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will offer up a small difficulty or confusing moment as coming from you, my loving Lord.
For Further Reflection: Welcoming the Word: A Retreat Guide on the Annunciation by Fr. John Bartunek, LC (available on RCSpirituality.org).
written by Br. Brian Flanagan, LC