Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Today the Church celebrates the Annunciation of Our Blessed Lord. This day, is exactly nine months before Christmas and reminds us of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s cooperation with God’s Will through her fiat – her yes to the Lord. It is also the first of the Joyous Mysteries of the Rosary signifying the virtue of Humility.

The Mass readings for today are as follows:

Reading I
Is 7:10-14; 8:10

10 And the Lord spoke again to Achaz, saying:
11 Ask you a sign of the Lord your God, either unto the depth of hell, or unto the height above.
12 And Achaz said: I will not ask, and I will not tempt the Lord.
13 And he said: Hear therefore, O house of David: Is it a small thing for you to be grievous to men, that you are grievous to my God also?
14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel.

10 Take counsel together, and it shall be defeated: speak a word, and it shall not be done: because God is with us.

Responsorial Psalm
40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 11

Reading II
Heb 10:4-10

4 For it is impossible that with the blood of oxen and goats sin should be taken away.
5 Wherefore, when he comes into the world he says: Sacrifice and oblation you would not: but a body you have fitted to me.
6 Holocausts for sin did not please you.
7 Then said I: Behold I come: in the head of the book it is written of me: that I should do your will, O God.
8 In saying before, Sacrifices, and oblations, and holocausts for sin you would not, neither are they pleasing to you, which are offered according to the law.
9 Then said I: Behold, I come to do your will, O God: He takes away the first, that he may establish that which follows.
10 In the which will, we are sanctified by the oblation of the body of Jesus Christ once.

Gospel
Lk 1:26-38

26 And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth,

27 to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin’s name was Mary.

28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you: blessed are you among women.

29 Who having heard, was troubled at his saying and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be.

30 And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for you have found grace with God.

31 Behold you shall conceive in your womb and shall bring forth a son: and you shall call his name Jesus.

32 He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father: and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever.

33 And of his kingdom there shall be no end.

34 And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man?

35 And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon you and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold your cousin Elizabeth, she also has conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren.

37 Because no word shall be impossible with God.

38 And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to your word. And the angel departed from her.


Personal Reflection

If anyone should wonder why we hold Mary in such esteem, today’s Gospel should bear it out. Many are familiar with the prophecy of the Annunciation as found in Isaiah, however, what many fail to comprehend is that Mary was chosen and prepared but not forced to cooperate.

God’s omnipotence already knows what has been, what is and what has yet to be including all the possibilities therein. For that reason Mary was chosen to be the Theotokos or God-bearer. Mary is the “Mother of God.” She did not make Him, in fact, He made her not just by giving her a soul but miraculously intervening to give her a soul free from sin. Mary was the first creature redeemed by Christ prior to her own conception.

Verse 28, above, makes this point clear by the manner in which the archangel Gabriel greeted the Blessed Virgin, “Hail, full of grace…” This is a proclamation of Mary’s perpetual state for she was prepared by the Lord so that He Who is Holy may not come in contact with anything unholy or sullied by the stain of Original Sin (cf, Ex 25:11-21 and He 9:4). Next, Gabriel states that “…the Lord is with you…” referring to what God had already done and is about to do. Mary makes testifies to all of what the Lord has done for her in her Magnificat (also called “the Canticle of Mary”) found in Luke 1:46-55:

46 And Mary said: My soul does magnify the Lord.
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour.
48 Because he has regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
49 Because he that is mighty has done great things to me: and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.
51 He has showed might in his arm: he has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
52 He has put down the mighty from their seat and has exalted the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he has sent empty away.
54 He has received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy.
55 As he spoke to our fathers: to Abraham and to his seed for ever.

Gabriel continues to affirm this fact to Mary in verse 30 in response to her reaction of the initial greeting. For Mary, a poor, young virgin which tradition holds was consecrated to remain as such (not uncommon during the era), she could not fathom why an angel of God would appear to her. Verses 31 through 33 make it known to her the reason for the visit and the meaning behind the title “Full of Grace.”

Again, being a consecrated virgin, her response in verse 34 was one of speculation, “How shall this be done, because I know not man?” In her words she seeks to understand the manner in which she is to bear the Son of the Most High since she, although betrothed, was consecrated before God by her parents to remain a virgin. For at that time, Mary would have been well aware of how children are conceived and born; she was not ignorant of the fact, just curious of God’s plan.

Her answer comes in with an explanation of the process, a proof and a point! The Holy Spirit would overshadow her causing a miraculous (supernatural) conception, a miraculous (natural) conception had been gifted to her cousin and all of this being more that enough proof that this was the work and the will of God.

Mary’s fiat occurs in the last verse for today, verse 38. As a consecrated virgin and the sinless child of pious parents would have had the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 pop into her mind almost from the moment the angel called her by her first title. At that point, how could the new Eve, the Ark of the Second Covenant (as she is sometimes referred to), refuse? She proclaims what she already knew, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.” Because she was already redeemed by Christ she was not a slave to sin but instead a slave to the Lord! “Be it done to me according to your word,” leapt from her lips in joy as they would later be released from the mouth of her Son in agony 33 years later (Matt 26:42; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42; John 6:38).

The Annunciation and Mary’s faithful response show us what it means to be a true disciple of Christ and a slave to the Lord. It the free and total submission our will to that of God’s that makes Mary Our Mother and God’s most perfect creature.

Let us pray the Angelus in honor of today:

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The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary: 
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. 

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. 

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word. 

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us. 

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. 

Let us pray: 

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.

Amen. 


“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28)

 “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Lk 1:42). 

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