The Annunciation

This morning, being the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, my morning reflections turned toward the Angelus Prayer, which is prayed each day at morning, noon and evening.


The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary

And she conceived by the Holy Spirit

Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.


This is such an awesome mystery! It is so awesome that when we mention it in the Nicene Creed at Mass, the Church asks us to humbly bow in awe and reverence (and in today’s celebration we are asked to genuflect at the words "and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man"). Of course, this mystery is so big, it gets its own season nine months from now when we celebrate Christmas.


Behold the handmaid of the Lord

Be it done unto me according to Your word

Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.


The most beautiful human person ever to live considered herself a servant. Mary did not consider herself to be above others, but rather as a handmaid of the Lord. We do not know what she looked like or all she did, but in the scene of the Annunciation we glimpse her surpassing beauty in the virtues of humility, gratitude, magnanimity, trust and a heart open to God’s surprises.

For all her beauty (inside and out), Mary never forgot that she is a creature created by God. Humbly, Mary attributes all her good to her Maker: The Lord has done great things for me. Her heart is filled with gratitude especially in the gift of her holy motherhood. Humility also makes her magnanimous. She can do great things, even say Yes to being the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church, because she knows that God is working in and through her. She can rely on God’s power and strength rather than her own. At the same time, because she knows her human weakness, Mary does not take goodness for granted. She practices self-discipline and constantly asks for Divine help. Although the Blessed Virgin was immaculately conceived, remaining in the fullness of grace was not automatic. She too had to navigate a fallen world saying yes to God and no to sin. Mary is a wonderful model for us and a good mother who helps us grow in virtue if we let her.

Be it done unto me according to Your word. How concretely Mary anticipates the words of her Son’s prayer, Your will be done, and applies them to her own existence despite whatever apprehension she may have been feeling and the challenges she would face. Mary tells the angel yes, and that yes not only continues throughout her life, but cascades down to our own time, when we are invited three times each day to take her words onto our lips and into our hearts.


The Word became flesh

And dwelt among us

Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.


Often lately, I have been struck by this verse. I find comfort in it. God dwelt among us. Probably some days, Jesus did not feel overly excited to get out of bed and had to push himself. Sometimes, I suspect, hunger made the King of Kings feel grumpy inside. Plenty of times, I’m sure, everything fell to pieces around him. God dwelt among us as one of us in our messy, fallen world.

God knows what we’re going through, not only because God creates us and holds everything in existence at every moment, but because the Second Person of the Trinity became a man and walked around in our shoes! He felt what we feel and even more intensely than we feel it, because his emotions were perfect. He slept, ate, drank, felt the joys of living. He felt tired, hungry, thirsty and suffered frustration and pains.

When I do not quite have things together, I take comfort in the fact that God has experienced all these challenges from our point of view. I also take courage because Jesus faced even greater challenges and went so far as to be condemned to an atrocious, excruciating death to lead me safely through the valley of death and to open the gates to heaven so that our efforts to live for God might have the reward of Eternal Life.

A priest once suggested that I meditate just on the seventh station of the Cross: Jesus falls the second time. The way of the Cross is messy, even ugly, and yet at the same time it is not either. It is our salvation. I have read reflections by various saints and holy writers that describe the Lord’s holy eagerness so vividly that they imagine him kissing the Cross and running up calvary. But Jesus fell, three times, out of human physical weakness. Jesus walked calvary as a mortal man. Though he was God, he humbled himself and took the form of a slave.

Jesus did not walk the Way of the Cross alone. He received solace from his mother and kindness from Veronica who wiped the blood, sweat and dirt from his face. He needed Simon to help him carry the heavy wood. He even needed Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, who finally found the boldness to do what was right after it seemed all was lost, to attend to his burial. He needed others and he knows we do as well. He knows because he has dwelt among us and walked before us. He invites us to help one another and so to help him.


Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


Jesus’ mother said yes to God and to helping all people not only at the Annunciation, but throughout her pregnancy and raising her Son. She said yes again at calvary and continues to say yes as Mother of the Church and Queen of Heaven. Saint Joseph said yes to the angel’s message time and again. The apostles and other disciples said yes. Mary Magdalene and the women at the tomb said yes. Countless priests, missionaries and holy people over two thousand years have said yes. We are all invited to say yes with the Blessed Mother.

Yes, God, Your will be done. God's will is to come among us so he can bring us back to Himself. When we say yes, Jesus dwells in our hearts. We embody Christmas and Good Friday, turning us into vehicles of saving grace and healing power and giving us the certitude that if we die with Christ, we will also rise and reign with him in glory.


Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.


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