The Annunciation – Blessed Virgin Mary’s Yes!
The Nicene Creed is the formal presentation of the chief doctrines of our Catholic Faith. It was formulated by the First Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. and is used during the Mass’ Profession of Faith. In the Profession of Faith, we believe and say “…For us men and for our salvation, He (Jesus) came down from heaven and by the power of the Holy Spirit, was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” Through the Annunciation that we celebrate on Thursday, 25 March 2021, Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive the son of God, Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the Annunciation to Mary instigates the fulfilment of God’s promises and preparations. From all eternity God chose for the mother of his Son a daughter of Israel, a young Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee, “a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary”. She was invited by the Angel Gabriel to conceive.
But why? After the fall of Adam and Eve, civilization longed for and anticipated a savior. God continued to speak to his chosen people through the patriarchs and prophets of Israel. He willed that the annunciation and incarnation should be preceded by Mary’s “fiat” (yes) so that just as Eve had a share in the coming of death, so should Mary contribute to the coming of life. Throughout the Old Covenant the mission of many holy women was prepared for Mary’s annunciation. At the very beginning there was Eve. Despite her disobedience, Eve receives the promise from God that the offspring from future women would defeat Satan. By virtue of this promise, Sarah conceives a son despite her old age. Against all human expectation God chooses other women who were considered powerless and weak to show forth his faithfulness to His promises: Hannah, the mother of Samuel; Deborah; Ruth; Judith and Esther. Mary stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord, who confidently hope for and receive salvation from Him. God repeatedly renewed his promise for a savior. That promise for a savior is finally at hand. God enters a conversation with Mary of Nazareth through the Archangel Gabriel. After a long period of waiting the times are fulfilled in her, the exalted Daughter of Sion, and the new plan of salvation is established with the Annunciation!
But how? God singles out a young Jewish woman, Mary – who was born without original sin. Gabriel’s words to her are, “Hail, full of grace the Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28). Through Gabriel, God makes a momentous request of her, to bear the “Son of the Most High” (Lk1:31-32). Mary’s question, “How can this be, since I have no husband?” (Lk 1:34), is a way of Mary expressing a willingness to grasp something holy and mysterious. Gabriel offers Mary no physiological explanation because Jesus is to be conceived in a way that surpasses nature – the Incarnation. Through the Incarnation, the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary, overshadows her, where she conceives a child, to be born and who will be called Holy, the Son of God. This was God’s plan that his creation would not be abandoned. It was now up to Mary to freely accept God’s request.
In those few moments of the Annunciation, Mary’s very future is being unveiled for her. God asks her to be the mother of Israel’s Messiah! Mary, the Blessed Virgin, had to open her heart with an amazing faith to that Annunciation! A whole civilization, past/present/future, awaited her response! With understanding little, Mary made a total gift of herself! “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be (done) to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). These words uttered by Mary are what in the Liturgical sense is called – The great FIAT!
Mary’s “Fiat”, at the Annunciation which we celebrate on Thursday, 25 March, said yes to God in Nazareth, and to a whole civilization that was awaiting the Messiah. It expressed in an instant, Mary’s response to God’s ultimate plan for the redemption of the world and her essential role in it. Mary’s yes at the Annunciation becomes a model for our own faith, generosity, and complete conformity when we are asked to do God’s Holy Will. Blessings – Dcn Jim