4.9.18 Mon. 2nd wk of Easter (II)
Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.
Isaiah 7: 10 – 14, 8: 10
Hebrews 10: 4 – 10
Gospel of Luke 1: 26 – 38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you. But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “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, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. The Gospel of the Lord.
Homily: Fr. Mike Murphy Our Annunciation
The angel Gabriel announced a new covenant between God and His people and Mary was to be the “Ark” of that “New Covenant”. Mary would possess God – literally within her. Her womb would become God’s Temple. Traditionally, Mary has been seen as the model not only of the Church, but also of the Christian life – how we would live our lives as God’s people. And our spiritual journey remarkably follows the pattern of what we find here in the Annunciation.
First: we have the appearance by the angel. This was not what Mary expected that day. She was going about her normal day, but you see, God always takes the initiative in everything. He has loved us first and even when we don’t expect it, †Jesus calls us to follow Him, even before we have any idea of wanting to be a disciple. God makes His presence and His call known to us in prayer. That’s the way we hear the call – through prayer. Without prayer, how can we know God’s will for us? We are called in the depths of our being by the Lord. As we read in the prophecy of Isaiah: “Before you were formed in the womb, I knew you…I called you”. That ‘s the first step that we follow in this journey.
Secondly, on this journey there is a reaction – it could be fear, it could be awe. It was for Mary – Scripture says that: “She was troubled by the words of the angel”, and then Gabriel said to Mary: “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God”. (Lk.1:30) So often we respond with uncertainty or skepticism, with regard to what God is asking of us in our life. ‘What is happening to me – you are asking too much of me, Lord. I can’t possibly be that for you, God. I can’t be a saint, I am not worthy of such a call’. These are all examples of false humility, because if God calls us – He will give us the grace we need to fulfill the mission. In truth, we are just too busy, too frightened or too lazy. We come up with all kinds of excuses not to follow God’s will. But like Mary, we are called to respond with trust.
The next part of this Annunciation is the message, the announcement. Mary was to give birth to the Savior of the world: “God had visited His people”. Now – I must make God present. Like Mary, we’re called as well to be ‘Arks of the New Covenant’, to be a sign of hope in a despairing world, to be both the messenger and the message, by Christ who lives within us, to bring †Jesus to the world. Are we willing to be part of this royal line, as Mary was, David, †Jesus, the saints, me? Are we willing to follow in that tradition? This morning the Holy Father, Pope Francis, published his newest Apostolic Exhortation called: “Gaudete Exsultate” (“Rejoice and Be Glad”) It is an exhortation on holiness and the call to become saints. We are all called to be saints; are we willing to respond to that message and that call?
Next – there was a reaction to this message by the angel on Mary’s part. Mary knew she was hearing something very new. It was going to take a miracle for this to happen, surpassing all that God had ever done before. He had never done this before. And Mary had a question: “How shall this be – since I have no husband”? (Lk.1”34) Now this was not an expression of doubt or skepticism on Mary’s part – it was an expression of wonderment – WOW – how could this be? How could this be! Mary is a true hearer of God’s Word; she immediately responds with faith and trust (what I call active receptivity). She was actively receptive to God’s will for her. My response must always be – when I am called – to do what I have to do – to give glory and honor to God. Do you know what the world’s most common prayer is? The world’s most common prayer is: ‘Thy will be changed’. ‘I want to do it my way, Lord’. But the world’s greatest prayer is: “Thy will be done”. We will always remain an infant in the spiritual life if we do not say: “Yes,” to the Lord. I must live a life of love to bring forth that life.
And then finally – the fifth part of the Annunciation – there will come the sign: Gabriel said to Mary: “?The power of the Most High will overshadow you”. (Lk.1:35) And Mary gave birth to the Son of God. And what were the signs that accompanied the coming of †Jesus? We read in Matthew’s Gospel: “The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will walk”. (Matt.11:4-5)
I will see with eyes of faith. That will be a sign!
Most people are deafened by the roar of the world –
but I will hear the Word of God. That will be a sign!
Those crippled by a selfish world are all around us –
but I will walk in love and self-gift. That will be a sign!
We will be the sign of God’s presence in the world.
And the greatest sign is what we celebrate here in this Eucharist – Christ truly present – Body and Blood – Soul and Divinity – right here! And we receive Christ into our body through Communion.
Our Eucharistic life of love and self-gift will become the sign of God’s presence.
Mary was the first to be called – and we are also called to be that part of the New Covenant. We might ask that same question that Mary did: “How can I do such things”? It is impossible for me! And the angel responds to us as he did to Mary: “Nothing is impossible for God”! (Lk.1:37)
When the angel greeted Mary, Gabriel said: “Hail favored one, the Lord is with you”. (Lk.1:28) Mary was the first to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit with the apostles at Pentecost as she gathered in the upper room. Sacramentally, we receive this gift at Confirmation. This morning Vicki Sheridan will receive this gift in our presence. It is her final Sacrament of initiation.
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.