The ANNUNCIATION of the INCARNATION of our SAVIOUR to the BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
When I went looking for an image of the Annunciation (25 March) I saw this and thought ‘how apt’. Sr. Lucia of Fatima to whom the Blessed Mother of God appeared in 1917 wanted the Holy Father to declare the Rosary a liturgical prayer. This image of the Annunciation is from the Royal Doors of an Orthodox Church (I don’t know where) and with this image I want you to see the Rosary as a liturgical prayer, a prayer that not only links us to Mary Dei Genetrix, the Theotokos, the Mother of God but through, and with her with her Son and the work He has done for us. The Rosary is partly a meditation on the life our Saviour in the company of His greatest disciple, His mother. Yet because it is this it is also a meditation on what is done to us and for us in the Church’s worship, her Liturgy.
As the feast of the Annunciation is March 25th it is right in the middle of Lent that we are given a moment to celebrate and rejoice! The sombre joy of Lent gives way to the glorious joy of the moment of Mary's 'fiat' and the Incarnation of the Word. Gabriel tells her she is 'full of grace'. Literally he says Chaire kecharitomene 'Grace to you who are full of grace' or 'blessed are you who are full of blessings'. 'Rejoice' the Church cries out at Easter and here in the midst of Lent the Church causes Gabriel's voice to speak to us from the Gospel, 'Rejoice!' Rejoice? Rejoice because Mary is to be the New Eve who brings forth from her pure flesh the New Adam, the Revelation of the Father and the Salvation of Man. Rejoice because the Spirit hovers over her as over a New Creation and descends on her so that the Word and Image of the Father can take flesh, so that the Eternal Pentecost of Man's union with God can come. Rejoice that the King of Heaven and Earth, of the whole Universe, is taking flesh in the womb of a country girl from lowly Nazareth.
Does God gamble I wonder? What if Mary had said 'no'? Such a Luciferian response would have doomed and damned mankind. She did not, of course, but her humble 'yes' was a 'yes' not just to the Word and Image of the Father but to all that would be through Him. Her 'yes' was a 'yes' to the Passion and the Cross, the 'sword that would pierce her heart', to the Resurrection, and to us. The Annunciation is a celebration our conception too, our conception in Christ. We celebrate the moment when a country girl was asked by the Father, through the agency of the Archangel Gabriel, to be the Mother of God, to be a key part of His astounding plan.
No wonder Gabriel seems to hold slightly back in the icon above by a Constantinopolitan master. His right hand is extended but the fingers which form the monogram of the name Jesus Christ are hidden – for although He has told Mary the NAME of the Saviour the world does not yet know. His staff shows his authority; this comes from the Father. Mary looks out at us. In her hands she holds the wool from which, tradition says, she wove the seamless garment of Christ. It symbolizes her weaving a body for the Word from her own flesh. She looks at us. 'Well?' she seems to ask 'What should I say?' Say 'yes' O Mother! Say 'yes' and save us. Say 'Yes' and set us free. Say 'YES' to us so that we who are dead in sin might live forever in the Light. "Behold! I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to thy word". "And the WORD was made flesh".
God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. Hail Mary
The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you." Hail Mary
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. Hail Mary
But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. Hail Mary
You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. Hail Mary
He 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, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." Hail Mary
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" Hail Mary
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Hail Mary
So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even 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. For nothing is impossible with God." Hail Mary
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her. Hail Mary
Glory be to the Father
Text of Gospel is from the New International Version