March 25, nine months before December 25, is the Feast of the Assumption. Christ did not begin his time on earth as a human at Christmas but when he entered the womb of Mary. It was then that “the Word became Flesh” (John 1:14), for life does not start at birth but at conception.
One of the great geniuses of the way the Church Calender is set up is that this falls just before Passion week and Easter. To truly understand the upcoming events, the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord, we must understand – at least in part – the Incarnation.
This was prophesied by Isaiah and heralded by an angel (Luke 2:26-38). God, the creator of all things, of the world, the animals, the plants, the angels, and us humans, to redeem us from our own sins and failures, left his glory and took up his residence in the womb of a young girl. This would have been very poignant to the Jews. For the first time since the losing of the Ark, the physical presence of God was with them.
Without the Annunciation and the Incarnation, we would have no Calvary or Easter. So, take some time today to meditate on the beauty of this mystery.
Reflections on the Annunciation
I have taken to looking at snapshots from scripture and faith from the point of view from many, if not all, of the eyes of those involved and writing to them. I have done this for this most joyful and hope-filled of mysteries.
Gabriel, your name means “Power of God,” and it was you who were chosen to go to the human girl who had been selected by the Father. A fallen angel seduced Eve to sin, to walk away from the union with the Father and curse the human race with sin. Now you –Power of God – were chosen to offer Mary a chance to restore this union and bless the world with the Son. What an honor that must have been!
What was it like to know that the woman before you would become the Ark of the New Covenant? That she would be the Mother of God, something even the angels could only wonder at? Did you look at her and see the womb that would fashion the Son into human form, the hands that would hold him, the breast that would suckle him, and the lips which would kiss his brow and teach him to talk? What was it like to see this young girl and know that she, among all women from all times, had been chosen to be the Vessel through which the Father would give the Son to the world?
Were you humbled, oh Gabriel, by her great humility and her prudence to think before she spoke? Were you gladdened when she did not ask if this deed could be done but only how? Did you then begin to understand the Father's reasons for choosing this girl? What joy you must have felt being the Lord's mouthpiece for this monumental occasion, and even greater joy when you could bring glad tidings to the rest of the heavenly courts!
Dearest Mother, what were you thinking when the angel appeared before you? What reaction did your heart give at his unusual greeting. An Angel hailed you, a humble handmaiden to her Lord. Were you aware, then, how God had touched your soul and blessed you? Did you know what manner of favor the Lord had bestowed upon you at your conception? Were you perplexed as to why he, bearing a message from the Lord, would greet you such? Did you think that perhaps he had made a mistake? Or were you immensely humbled that you would be hailed by the angels?
And his tiding! Oh, Mother, what thoughts must have gone through your mind! You who had consecrated your life and virginity to the Lord, you who had given both body and spirit totally to our Lord, did you ever assume this is how He would use your offering? Did you ever imagine that instead of spending your life in prayer, works of service for your people, and living a life you thought you could understand, each of your hopes, dreams, and goals in life were changed. Now, you would be a mother! In intimate communion and relationship with the Lord you worshiped. Your greatest service would be raising the Savior of the world and walking that hard road beside him, joining your sorrow to his.
Mother, you graciously accepted this change in plans. Your beautiful fiat, your “yes” to God undid that “no” of eve. You opened yourself to the truth, undoing Eve's embracing of sin. Eve, the mother of all living, opened the door of the world, of the soul, to sin. You, the Mother of those Living in Christ, opened the door of the world, of the soul, to God. You offered your body to God, offering to be His new ark, to hold the High Priest, the Word, and the Bread of Life. You accepted this great responsibility with such humility and grace that none could ever mistake your intentions: your “yes” was not to bring glory to yourself. Rather, it was to bring glory to God. You were obedient, a humble servant, and it was that humility, that purity, which allowed you to say “yes.”
Hail Mary, Daughter of the Father!
Hail Mary, Mother of the Son!
Oh, Mother, thank you for your Fiat! Pray that I too might have the grace to say the same.Hail Mary, Spouse of the Spirit!
Jesus, precious Jesus, what did you think as Gabriel went to Mary? Did you watch anxiously? Even knowing that she had been chosen to be your Mother, your new Ark, the means through which you would take human form and enter the world, did you wonder? Did you wonder if, as Eve did, she would not choose you? That she would listen to her fear and insecurity and not trust that you would know best? Were you thrilled when she said yes? Or did you realize this meant you were one step closer to Calvary? Did you join in celebration with the Angels? Was it your joy that the angels proclaimed?
How can I thank you, Jesus, for taking your glory, leaving it with your Father, and allowing the Holy Spirit to Incarnate you in the womb of the handmaiden? In the fullness of time, when this new Eden was prepared, crafted for you at the moment of the handmaiden's conception, you, the New Adam, entered into the world. Unlike Adam, you knew that leaving the Garden meant suffering, pain, and death. Yet still you took on the form of the slave. You allowed yourself nine months to grow as all of your human creations do. And at the moment of your incarnation, you began to affect changes.
Father, did you smile as you watched your precious daughter accept this chalice? Did you feel a sigh of relief, knowing that the daughter you had favored from the beginning loved you enough to offer her life so she might offer your Son to the world? Did you embrace your Son one last time before handing him to the Spirit to give to Mary, and, through her, to us? To me? When your precious Son, your only Son, was placed inside her head, did you place your hand over her womb and smile?
Holy Spirit, Comforter, Consoler, Illuminator, did you rejoice that you would again have a worthy vessel to tabernacle over? Did you rejoice to take this beautiful,
grace-filled girl as your spouse and incarnate the Son into her Holy Womb? Were you glad to bestow your graces upon her and help her in all that she would need? Did you grant her wisdom and understanding even then to strengthen her to drink the chalice offered to her by this Holy Union?
Precious Lord, you came down to earth so that we might be saved. You entered into our fallen world and took on the garments of a slave all so you could live to die. I cannot ever thank you enough for your humility and mercy.
Blessed Mother, favored by God, hailed by the angels, I thank you for your yes, and I ask that you would help me to better understand this mystery of the incarnation. Lead me ever closer to your Son. Help me to meditate more fruitfully on this mystery and on his life, death, and resurrection so that I may be more fully ready for His return.