Homily for the Feast of the Annunciation to Mary - Lk. 1:26-38


Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen

" In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, «Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!» But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.

" And the angel said to her, «Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.» And Mary said to the angel, «How shall this be, since I have no husband?» And the angel said to her, «The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.» And Mary said, «Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.» And the angel departed from her. "


We are nine months from Christmas: the Church celebrates the Annunciation of Mary nine months before the birth of the Child Jesus, in order to show that the conception of Christ takes place nine months before his birth, in conformity with the laws of nature. Today, the Church remembers the day of the conception of Christ as it was announced to Mary, the Virgin of Nazareth, the daughter of Joachim and Anne. This annunciation to Mary was accomplished through an Angel, the Archangel Gabriel, who spoke in the very name of God. Gabriel means Strength of God, or Power of God.

The Lord sent Gabriel, for this Angel is charged with negotiating a Covenant between God and man, a Covenant founded on the union of the divine and human natures in the Person of Christ, but a Covenant that is finally concretized in the union of two beings who are totally different from each other and yet mysteriously very similar. These two beings are, on one hand, the Person of the Holy Spirit, who is the Omnipotence of the Most High (thus the sending of Gabriel, Strength of God), and on the other hand, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of God.

On March 25, 1987, the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, signed his Encyclical on the Virgin Mary, "Redemptoris Mater". In it, he said: "The Holy Spirit had already come down upon her, and she became his faithful spouse at the Annunciation." (no. 26)

Before the Annunciation, before conceiving Christ within her, Mary is a Virgin, and she said to the Angel Gabriel: "How shall this be, since I am a virgin?" (Lk. 1:34) Mary wants to love God above all, and Him alone. Enlightened by the grace of God that is in her, and indeed in fullness, Mary has chosen virginity as the way to live the most fully with God. So she objects to the angel Gabriel that she does indeed want to accomplish the Will of God by becoming the Mother of Christ the Savior, but while preserving her virginity.

The angel Gabriel then replies to her: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you." (Lk. 1:35) This is the key sentence that allows Mary to understand, in faith, that the Love of God, in the Person of the Holy Spirit, will accomplish in her this double action: making her the Mother of God by the conception of Christ, and perpetually preserving her virginity. Mary understood that the Holy Spirit, because he is Spirit, will make her more spiritual by dwelling in her: the virginity of Mary is not affected by the conception of the Child Jesus, but rather, thanks to the Holy Spirit, this same virginity of Mary is even more true, because it is more holy in He who is the Holy Spirit.

Speaking of the Virgin Mary and the Church, the Council of Vatican II summarizes the Annunciation of Mary in the following manner: "In the mystery of the Church, (...) the Blessed Virgin stands out in eminent and singular fashion as exemplar both of virgin and mother. By her belief and obedience, not knowing man but overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, as the new Eve she brought forth on earth the very Son of the Father, showing an undefiled faith, not in the word of the ancient serpent, but in that of God's messenger." (Lumen Gentium, no. 63)

And John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote to Dr. Pusey:  "Athanasius was the first and the great teacher of it  (the revealed doctrine of the Incarnation). He collected together the inspired notices scattered through David, Isaias, St. Paul, and St. John, and he engraved indelibly upon the imaginations of the faithful, as had never been before, that man is God, and God is man, that in Mary they meet, and that in this sense Mary is the centre of all things." (4, 87)

May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary help us to believe even more strongly in the Omnipotence of God!

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