25 Mar – Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
The annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary by Gabriel the Archangel, that she was to be the Mother of God (Luke 1), the Word being made flesh through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The feast probably originated about the time of the Council of Ephesus (c. 431), and is first mentioned in the Sacramentary of Pope Gelasius (d. 496).
The Annunciation has been a key topic in Christian art in general, as well as in Roman Catholic Marian art, particularly during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It is represented in art by many masters, among them Fra Angelico, Hubert Van Eyck, Ghirlandajo, Holbein the Elder, Lippi, Pinturicchio, and Del Sarto.
This feast is celebrated on Mar 25, nine months before the feast of the Nativity of Jesus (Christmas) on Dec 25.
The Annunciation is also mentioned twice in the Quran, the holy book for the Muslims.
- Patron Saint Index, Wikipedia
God, here I am! I am coming to obey your will.
Sacrifices are hard. We tell ourselves each day, that in order to obtain something we desire, sacrifices have to be made. We tell ourselves things like, “I have to work harder to get that promotion”, “I have to be better than the next person to succeed”, “I have to give up eating carbs to lose weight”, and “I have to stop spending money on things that don’t help me grow.”
For me, what started out as a means of getting out of the house during the pandemic lock down was to wake up at dawn and walk 10 km. It’s been 2 years since, our movements are less restrictive, but I still have this mindset — I MUST exercise at the crack of dawn. I’ll admit, it’s hard getting up when everyone else is deep in sleep. I lost sight of what that 2 hours of exercise means. For me, it became a sacrifice of sleep.
In today’s second reading, the author is writing to Jewish Christians who are being pressured to give up their faith and return to Judaism. He’s attempting to urge them to stay with Jesus, the perfect sacrifice and true high priest. You had no pleasure in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin. God does not desire sacrifice and offerings. He wants the broken spirited to come back to God, acknowledging their sinfulness and seeking forgiveness. It’s as ‘simple’ as that!
Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel comes to tell the Virgin Mary the good news; that she, the highly favoured has been hand-picked for a special mission — to be the mother of God’s only son! He is going to be great, called the Son of the Most High, given the throne of David and rule over Israel!
To a 13-year old girl, how would she have taken this message? Confused, overwhelmed and troubled, I am sure. Mary was an ordinary young woman, betrothed to Joseph and lived a simple life in the small town of Nazareth. Why would God have chosen her to be in such a position of honour? And here was an Angel, telling her all those wonderful, yet scary things which were about to take place. No one would have thought that her life would be one of sacrifice. Talk about an upsell! Everything the Angel told her was indeed true. Only, Mary never really got to experience it in her lifetime. What mother can withstand seeing her son being tortured to death?
Mary’s calling comes with great honour, yet it also comes with much pain, hardship and suffering. Still, she responded to God’s calling humbly and in obedience.
“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” – Luke 1:38.
“My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.” – Luke 1:47.
One might think she didn’t know what she was getting into. However, this sacrifice of hers was not for herself. Her sacrifice was for us.
Now, my having to wake up at dawn seems so trivial.
Brothers and sisters, the Lord has laid out plans for all of us. It is up to us to respond. The Christian calling is never easy. Your ‘yes’ will come with many more ‘yes’-s. And some of them will be painful ones. Will we have the courage to follow God’s calling? Or do we wait till the time is right, when He has assured us that all will be well?
The Lord asks that we trust Him and rely on His grace. Mary trusted in God. She found the courage to say ‘yes’. She presents her sacrifice, so elegantly and beautifully for all mankind.
Can we trust too that we are each called according to God’s purpose and will? That our lives are meant to be lived for others? Is this a sacrifice? Or is it a privilege?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Father, teach us to trust in you. To depend on your love and wisdom. Whenever we are consumed with fear or by the judgement of others, may we be guided by our faith in You.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Mother, for your ‘yes’, for your obedience and faithfulness to God. Thank you for the gift of your Son, for the pain and sacrifice you had to endure. Mother, pray for us. To be as courageous and steadfast as you.