The Eve of the Annunciation

Today we celebrate the Eve of the Annunciation: when the angel of the Lord came to Mary and said that she would give birth to God’s Son. Regarding Mary, Mother Teresa writes, “Mary showed complete trust in God by agreeing to be used as an instrument in his plan of salvation. She trusted him in spite of her nothingness because she knew he who is mighty could do great things in her and through her. Once she said “yes” to him, she never doubted. She was just a young woman, but she belonged to God and nothing nor anyone could separate her from him.”

Once Mary heard the message and plan of God, she believed. For such a young woman, that would have been a great demonstration of faith, but it is also a decision—through faith—that each of us must make, because even though we do not physically give birth to Jesus, we must all agree to him being conceived within us.

We know that Elizabeth was Mary’s cousin and that she was the mother of John the Baptist. On this, Saint Ambrose once preached: “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit after conceiving a son; Mary was filled before. ‘You are blessed,’ said Elizabeth to Mary, ‘because you have believed.’”  But then, speaking to his congregation, Ambrose said, “You too are blessed because you have heard and believed. The soul of every believer conceives and brings forth the Word of God and recognizes His works. Let Mary’s soul be in each of you to glorify the Lord. Let her spirit be in each one of you to rejoice in the Lord. Christ has only one Mother in the flesh, but we all bring forth Christ by faith. Every soul free from contamination of sin and safe in its purity can receive the Word of God.”

Like Mary, we are blessed if we allow Jesus to be conceived within us, but it does not end there, because we must also allow him to be born from us, so that his light might shine into the world. As Jesus said at the Sermon on the Mount, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

It may seem odd that we hear of the Annunciation so close to Easter, but we are nine months from Christmas, so… In addition, the time for Jesus to be conceived in us and the time for us to let his light shine forth from us is now. For, “Behold,” St. Paul tells us, “now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

Hear the words of the angel spoke to you and with Mary say, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

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