Sermon: The Annunciation

AnnunciationSome of you may be thinking, “He’s been our priest for less than a month and he’s already slipped a cog.” Why would we be reading about the angel of the Lord speaking to Mary regarding the birth of Jesus when next week is Holy Week when we talk about His death and resurrection?

The answer is math and biology. It is, after all, only 274 days until Christmas – that would be nine months – when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Therefore, even though we are only days away from Jesus’ death on a cross outside of Jerusalem, we pause to remember the day that the angel of the Lord came to the Blessed Virgin Mary and told her she would conceive in her womb the very Son of God.

The Feast of The Annunciation is a pivotal event in God’s plan of salvation for His people.

We know that for centuries the prophets had been speaking of the coming of a Savior. Perhaps the prophet’s voice we are most familiar with, when it comes to the Savior’s birth, is that of Isaiah.

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned….

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The world looked for this child, this Savior, because as St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans: “the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

The world is groaning in bondage and decay, but the child to be born, Jesus, can save it. Yet, all of this is dependent upon the response of a young teenage girl.

The angel says to Mary, “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.” He goes on to tell her about her cousin Elizabeth, then he waits for Mary’s response. Of the moment before Mary spoke, a deacon noted, “It was the moment when all creation held its collective breath.” (http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2012/03/deacon-bickerstaff-annunciation-when-all-creation-held-its-breath/) And St. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote in his homily for this day, “You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion.” (http://www.concordcarmel.org/reflection/lent5/)

We know her response, but had we been present, we also would have held our breath. Will she say, “Yes” or “No?” Will we be saved or are we condemned forever?

“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” And all creation wept for joy.

How does that short prayer begin:
“Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women…”

Our Mother Mary is blessed. Her “Yes” to God allowed the birth of our salvation.

I wonder, what would your “Yes” to God accomplish?

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