Thursday, March 25, 2021

Greetings, O highly favored ones. . .

Today the Lord greets each of us with the same greeting Mary received from the angel: “Greetings, O highly favored ones, the Lord is with you.” Because of the Virgin Mary and her consent to the Lord's will and the fruit of her womb, Jesus Christ, who accomplished salvation for us, we are the highly favored of the Lord.

Today is the feast day of Annunciation, the day when the angel spoke to the Blessed Virgin.  She did not understand how this could be.  Blessed Mary knew herself -- she was neither stupid or foolish and knew that she, a virgin, could not conceive a child in her womb.  But Gabriel told her how this would take place: “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.”

Although there is great symbolism here -- the Virgin Mary being the new Eve who redeems the moment with her consent to God's will just as Eve cursed humanity with her consent to the serpent's wiles -- this is not about symbolism.  She will not become pregnant with an idea but with the flesh and blood of a Son whom God has revealed as His own.

Blessed Mary is now become the Mother of God, giving her own body to be a temple for the Lord's dwelling.  The Church honors this blessed Virgin not in isolation from what God has said and done in her and through her.  In the Magnificat she herself insists that it is not her but the Lord -- He has seen her low estate and raised her up by His grace and favor. Though the Church has through the ages been tempted to honor the Virgin beyond what her own words describe, we humbly bow to her wisdom of faith to call her blessed not because of her own person, but rather because of her calling and task as the God-bearer.

We rejoice, as St. Augustine noted, that the miracle is not only the Son of God in her womb but that Christ lived in her heart.  She was a woman of faith, well acquainted with the voice of the Law, the Prophets, and the writings.  She knew the synagogue and Temple as a believer who trusted God to do what He has said and to deliver upon His promise.

From the Gospel of Luke comes all that we know of her Annunciation and the richer details of how the Christ was born and manifested as the Son of God in flesh to shepherds and Magi.  But it begins with this day and this story, with the promise of the power of the most high overwhelming her doubt and fear.  This same power clothed the disciples on Pentecost and still clothes us as the Word speaks not simply into our ears but into our hearts that we might believe.  Like the Blessed Virgin, we are Christ-bearers, bringing His gospel and His saving presence to all nations through the proclamation of the Gospel.

We also become the living stones of the living temple God builds as His Word is preached and His Holy Sacraments administered to  us.  We are both carriers of Christ to others and those whom Christ carries through the twists and turns of this life and to eternal life.  So the greeting once given to Blessed Mary is now given to each of us -- the baptized who confess our faith, who live by the grace of absolution, the preaching of the Word, and the food of His body and blood in the Eucharist.  And the Spirit works in us the voice to say and the heart to believe in God's promise and make the good confession before the Lord and the world: Lord, let it be to me according to Your Word. 

Lord, make it so.  Amen.

1 comment:

Sean said...

Beautiful contemplation. Thank you.