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Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
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, on this day of your Incarnation, I place myself humbly before the greatest mystery of our faith. I am too small and simple to even think of being able to grasp how wonderful a thing it is that you, God, lowered yourself to become one of us. I am too small to even fathom what is in your heart, what a great love you have for each of us to do something like this. Help me to contemplate this scene with as much wonder as I can muster.
- Do Not Be Afraid: Mary was a young, pure, innocent girl and the visit from Gabriel frightened her! Yet, once Gabriel spoke with God’s power and authority, she may have found some peace. After all, she knew the voice of God and recognized Gabriel as his angelic representative who was, therefore, very trustworthy. Because Mary is our mother, she is more than willing to help us through our own worries and fears. When we lean on her shoulder, she will inspire us to turn to her Son and leave our fears with him at the foot of his cross. “In trial or difficulty, I have recourse to Mother Mary, whose glance alone is enough to dissipate every fear” (St. Therese of Lisieux).
- Of His Kingdom There Will Be No End: Mary was the first to grapple with the mystery of the Incarnation. With her background in the Old Testament and her pure faith, she was able to wonder with sincere reverence about how the lines of Scripture she had read and reflected on were about to come to fruition in her own life. Gabriel told Mary that Jesus’ name would be great, that he would be Son of the Most High, that his throne would rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there would be no end. With the awe and absolute trust of Mary, let us enter into her experience and praise God for choosing such a strong, courageous, and holy woman as our Mother.
- Behold I Am the Handmaid of the Lord: As loving children of Mother Mary, we wonder whether or not there was a moment of deliberation before her acquiescence. Were these words of hers spontaneous, or was she accustomed to considering herself the humble servant of God? Perhaps this was a prayer she repeated often, and now she needed only to reaffirm it in this new situation. Mary is the perfect example of a holy willingness to take risks. She had no idea what Gabriel’s invitation would imply, but was willing to let God lead her one step at a time. She was able to give up control and let him be in charge. May we imitate this holy disposition.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, in this moment you became man. At this moment Mary conceived you in her womb. God rewarded her openness and her humility with the greatest gift for all humanity. I, too, am rewarded by her fiat. Thank you, Lord, for our Blessed Mother.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will say yes to some request that is made of me in a small imitation of my Blessed Mother.
For Further Reflection: The Feast of the Annunciation: In Mary’s Womb, God Becomes Man by St. Leo the Great.
Fr. Adam Zettel, LC, was ordained in 2017 and worked for three years as a high school chaplain in Dallas, Texas. Now he resides in Oakville, Ontario, serving youth and young adults.