We are delighted to be here where the words ‘Hail, full of Grace the Lord is with you’ were uttered by the Angel Gabriel. How many millions, if not billions of times have these words been repeated and echoed by countless generation of Catholics throughout the world.
After the Crucifixion this is the scene most commemorated in sacred art.
It is hard to visualise but this was street level, 2,000 years ago. This scene of the Annunciation is etched into our minds – recited and commemorated in the Angelus Prayer which we recite at 6.00 am (12.00 noon & 6.00 pm)
This event is commemorated in every Hail Mary, and the 1st Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary. Behold the handmaiden of the Lord, be it done to me according to your wish, or 'Thy will be done.'
‘How this can come about’, not why, Mary asked. The angel assured her and us: ‘Nothing is impossible to God.’
We have the benefit of hindsight vision, but for Mary this was a crucial first step in faith not knowing what lay ahead. She would never see the angel again. Yet the fact and proof of the virginal conception of Jesus in her would soon become evident.
A good way to pray with the Gospels is to highlight or underline the promises of Christ and to follow it with the prayer to Mary: ‘Pray for us that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.’
‘Blessed is she who believed that the promises made her by the Lord would be fulfilled ‘(Elizabeth at Ein Karem)
This is like ‘once upon a time’ – when the appointed time came. Each of us has a vocation via baptism. We need to ask Mary to give us Faith, Hope and Trust, not knowing what lies ahead, to ask what is God’s will for me?
Our angel assures us: 'Do not be afraid. With God, all things are possible.'
“Master, it is wonderful for us to be here”
We see and have seen the beauty and grandeur of this country. But in particular, right through the Sacred Scriptures, the hills and mountains have been the point of encounter where God reveals Himself in a splendid, glorious way to His people. To Moses at Mount Sinai, to Elijah at Mount Carmel, and the Temple at Mount Sion which of course points to the hill of Calvary.
Moses and Elijah were here. God gave Moses the 10 Commandments of the Jews. Elijah was one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament. Their teaching and their mission, the intercession of Moses, the prayer of Elijah calling down fire from heaven - are fulfilled in Christ. Christ is about to accomplish is passion – his passing from death to life for us.
While Moses and Elijah represent the Old Testament, Peter, James and John represent the New.
There are a number of threes – The Trinity, represented by the Father’s voice, the Son, and the Spirit in the mist; Moses Elijah and Christ; Peter James and John
We add our voices to Peter, because we are lost for words.
We are admonished by the Father “Listen to Him”.
The words of Jesus in the Gospel (of Luke) are to be listened to and heeded.
The struggle with sleep is also our struggle with vigilance, temptation and lethargy, as at Gethsemane. But here the disciples stayed awake and witnessed Christ in glory - the reward for ‘staying awake will be ours too.
What we have seen and heard.
A number of years ago, I was visiting Fr. Patrick in Belfast and with another friend went to a place called the Odyssey with a cinema, bowling alley shops, hotels and science museum called W5 means, five ways we ask question, W being the first letter of each of 5
Where Christ walked – his first steps in Nazareth, his steps in the wilderness, Galilee, the Way of the Cross. The locations have come alive in our minds, St. Peter at Gallicantu.
When this happened
What he did – with the stone water jars, - in the Sea of Galilee, etc
Who Christ is –what kind of person.
But a visit to the Holy Land is so much more than a closer look at a biography – rather we are called to relate with Him – Who He is and more importantly for each of us personally ‘Who He is for me’.
We have heard the invitation to come.
Now we must go tell everyone the Good News – to come see for themselves.