The solemnity of the Annunciation is a solemnity of the Lord. It is a joyful mystery. It is an astounding mystery that the Lord of the heavens, of the galaxies that we are learning more and more about through the Hubble telescope; that the Lord who created the almost incomprehensible vastness of space with galaxies, planets and stars without number, comets, black holes and the like, millions of light years away, should confine Himself as it were, into the tiny virginal womb of Mary of Nazareth at the precise moment of her ‘Yes’.
Rightly is this moment so celebrated in art (second only to the Crucifixion in popular art) in stained glass windows; in statues; in wonderful paintings attempting to capture this extraordinary moment in time when God became man; in music with the wonderful renditions of the Ave Maria. Rightly therefore does the Church encourage us to pray with devotion and fervour the Hail Mary, the Rosary and the Angelus.
We know now that in biological terms, the human embryo is the size of a dot. Jesus took on our humanity beginning His earthly life in His mother’s body without losing a trace of His divinity; yet He was miniscule at the moment of Mary’s consent to become His mother.
The more we advance in the science of astronomy on the one hand and of embryology on the other, the more astonished, humbled and gratified we ought to be as we commemorate this event.
Mary’s yes was unique and yet we feel in our hearts that she was a woman who always said Yes to God’s will. Whereas we often ask ‘; why’, she only asked ‘how’. ‘How can this come about? ‘Each day gives us a new opportunity to ask the same question, to renew our ‘Yes’ to wherever our vocation lies – to some, marriage, to others, priesthood or religious life, to all the baptised, holiness.
We celebrate this day the beginning of our salvation in Christ, and as we enter Holy Week let us continue our astonished journey to Calvary alongside Mary, the perfect disciple, who, as St Augustine put it, ‘conceived Him in her mind [in faith] before she conceived Him in her body’. Her ‘Yes’ took her to many dark places – in poverty, exile, flight, fear and impending sorrow, and finally, bereavement. It also brought her to praise God at the Visitation, to wonder at the birth of her Son and His finding in the temple and at Cana; it brought her to awe in God’s presence as the Holy Spirit came upon her again at Pentecost, and it brought her to the Assumption in heaven –where she lives happily ever after. Mary’s journey is ours too. Like her we are ‘now’ called to ‘ponder these things’ in our hearts, ‘to imitate what they contain and to obtain what they promise’. What better way than the recitation of the daily rosary, with the constant refrain of Mary’s ‘Yes’ at each Hail Mary as we are brought daily in our journey closer to its fulfilment in Christ ‘at the hour of our death’.
Pray for us O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promise of Christ.