(The Annunciation: James Tissot)
"Do not be afraid Mary. You have found favor with God"
On this beautiful Marian Solemnity, our Gospel ends: "Then the angel departed from her." (Lk 1:38). I imagine what happened next: "So Gabriel returned to God and God asked him: 'What did she say?' Gabriel answered, "She said 'Yes'" and God smiled.
While my apocryphal scripture addition is not inspired as the Gospel writers were, I feel there is some truth to it. God rejoiced in Mary's "yes." So, today we hear whispers of the birth of a child nine months from now - the God/man.
Today, we mark our annual remembrance of the singular grace and privilege given to an obscure young Jewish adolescent girl who would have never been known except for God's extraordinary plan for her and for the world. Normally this comes nine months before Christmas on March 25 but this year it is moved to early April since 3/25 was Good Friday this year. Yes, the Son always trumps his mother. Today's remembrance is not a liturgical season but an event.
After hundreds of years of Jewish hope and promise, God sent his angelic messenger to this girl named "Mary" and with a profound request and an obedient response, history was changed forever: "May it be done to me according to your word," and God's hope was fulfilled in Mary.
This is the feast of the incarnation. That mystery by which we say that divinity and humanity were forever bonded in the womb of Mary. As God, through love and mercy for humanity, entered our lives as we all do through a human mother, the Word was made flesh. Nine months later, Jesus is born of that mother and under the protective eye of her husband Joseph, who likewise was asked to submit in this strange and mysterious plan.
Here is a link to the readings for today's Solemnity. I have often felt that the Gospel passage from Luke 1: 26 - 38 and the accompanying passage which relates the visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth is likely among the most joyful of the Gospel writings. Filled with joy and wonder, Mary gave her life to God in trust and faith. She is for us a model of cooperation with God's will for our life.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you,
blessed are you among women
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.