Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Meditation: Feast of the Annunciation (25 March 2009)

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Today, for the first time, the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is proclaimed – announced, we say – by the Archangel Gabriel to a young virgin of Nazareth in Galilee, a virgin named Mary.

26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
34"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
35The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37For nothing is impossible with God."
38"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her (Luke 1:26-38, NIV).

Mary is the first to receive an altar call: Will you accept Jesus Christ – not just into your heart but into your womb, not just as your personal savior but as savior of the world? And the world has been forever changed by her answer: “I am the Lord’s servant.”

It is Mary who gave flesh to God; thus, it is Mary we honor as Theotokos – God-bearer. It is through her that God assumed our humanity that we might assume his divinity (Athanasius, On the Incarnation). It is through her that Jesus took unto himself our nature that he might heal our nature and reconcile us to God. It is through her – because it is through her Son – that the Almighty has done great things.

51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers" (Luke 1:51-55, NIV).

And so, with Elizabeth the barren one, herself miraculously great with child, we proclaim to the Virgin of Nazareth: Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.


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