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The Annunciation and the Incarnation

My daughter Lisa took this amazing picture in Ocean City, NJ.

 

“The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth”  (Luke 1:26)

The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord is celebrated on March 25th. The Gospel reading for that day comes from St Luke and tells the story of the meeting between the angel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary. The story of the Annunciation is so familiar to us that it is possible to hear it read at Mass without pausing to consider what an amazing event it describes. I recently read a book entitled, “Meeting Jesus Christ, Meditations on the Word” by Mon. J. Brian Bransfield, who describes the angel’s visit with Mary as the intersection of heaven and earth. “The doorway to the Blessed Virgin Mary’s home in Nazareth is the threshold between eternity and time.”

A few years ago, I accompanied a friend on a visit to the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in Newark. It happened to be March 25th. When a friar answered the door in his grey habit and full beard, my friend greeted him enthusiastically with, “Happy Feast Day!” The young friar paused for a second, then responded, “You’re right! We should celebrate. The Incarnation was big!” It amuses me to think what an understatement that was. Big? The Incarnation was huge! It was the event which set in motion everything that we, as Christians, believe about the life of Jesus, everything from the Virgin Birth to the Ascension and all the events in between. And it all began with the visit of an angel and the humble response of a young woman in Nazareth two thousand years ago, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord (LK 1:38a).

St. Luke tells us that Gabriel said to Mary, “the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Lk 1:35). As I thought about that, it occurred to me that it was about more than the meeting of time and eternity. In the Incarnation, the holiness of God met the humbleness of Mary. Those two extremes, holiness and humbleness, have met many times since then. We see it in the euphoric encounters with God experienced by many of the saints. But what about today? Where do holiness and humbleness come together now? For me, the most powerfully clear meeting of holiness and humbleness occurs at Adoration. There the presence of Christ is visible in the candlelit monstrance. There our Holy and Loving God welcomes all His children, especially the broken and the weary, all who come seeking peace and healing, all who kneel before the eternal presence of Christ with humility, whose hearts echo the words of the Blessed Mother, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.”

Dómine, non sum dignus.  Lord, I am not worthy

 

KEEP READING

The Birth of Jesus Foretold. Luke 1:26-38

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