Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Heaven and Earth Unite
Today, the Church celebrates the magnificent Solemnity of the Annunciation. On this day, she celebrates with great joy the moment that set the wheels of our salvation in motion, the Incarnation of Christ.
The Introit for today's liturgy comes from that which we use for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the beautiful Rorate Caeli. The Annunciation falls during Spring time, when the life-giving rains fall on the earth, watering newly planted seeds that will later bloom into flowers and other plants. In this case, the Holy Spirit is the rain that falls upon the Earth, the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The seed of the Woman that God promised is no less than His only Begotten Son, Jesus.
In the Mystery of the Incarnation, God shows us how much He values the humanity that He created. He values it so much that He wants to be a part of us. He wants to unite Himself to us in a bond that can never be broken. This is truly remarkable. Ancient Greek mythology speaks of Zeus taken on various forms to seduce mortal women (a shower of gold, a bull or some other creature). The offspring resulting from these unions, of which Herakles is the most famous, were demigods. There was no love there, only discord.
The Annunciation is a concrete reality. It is the most radical, visible expression of the love of God for mankind. It is radical because He chose to come down and become one of us. But, unlike the mythological Zeus, God does not seduce nor force Himself upon a woman. Through the Archangel Gabriel, He asks Mary to be a part of His divine plan. He waits for her to give Him the answer, born of her own free will. Just as Eve sinned of her own free will, Mary agrees, of her own free will, giving her Fiat, her Yes, to becoming the Mother of God.
In the Annunciation, Heaven and Earth unite, finding their meeting place in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary becomes the true Ark of the Covenant, for, at the moment of her Fiat, she conceives of the Holy Spirit. In the Church's liturgical year, we genuflect two times, today and Christmas, at the words, "and was incarnate", recognizing the magnitude of the events of Christ's conception and his birth.
In his blog, Bishop Christopher Coyne notes that the Church Fathers linked the Annunciation with the Crucifixion. Jesus is hidden in the womb of his mother for nine months. When He is born, new life emerges. Some 33 years later, after His Crucifixion, Jesus is placed in the dark womb of the tomb, hidden from the world. Three days later, He emerges fully alive, resurrected from the dead, and new life bursts forth. "Here I am Lord; I come to do your will," King David writes in the psalms, predicting Jesus' mission, carrying out the will of the Father. "Sacrifices and oblations you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me," David writes. That Body of Christ, serves as the true sacrifice and oblation, consecrating man through this salviffic act.
It all begins with the Annunciation. It is the moment when the skies let the Just One come forth like the dew, descending from the clouds like the rain.