Annunciation — 1

LIKE TOTAL eclipses or comets, this weekend provides us with the sort of rare event that it is worth a blog post all of its own.

With Easter Sunday falling on April 16 (the next time will be in 11 years and the last time was almost 30 years ago) this weekend sees the Feast of the Annunciation and mid-Lent or Laetare Sunday fall on successive days, a slightly bigger than usual ray of sunshine in the solemn business of the penitential season.

Whatever you have given up for Lent , chocolates or wine (!), have one this weekend. But just one!

We have noted before that, while the Church needs to compress Our Lord’s life on earth into one year, all the events to do with His birth play out in real time so, in the words of the first intercession at Lauds today, “[t]oday we celebrate the beginning of our salvation.” with the birth of John the Baptist to follow in three months time and Jesus’ own nativity six months after that.

I am always impressed with the way in which Luke makes important announcements in his Gospel and generally his translators have kept faith with him.

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,  to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.

Clear, concise, nothing missing! And the message too brooks no possible misunderstanding and we are perhaps left wondering at what point in all this did Mary know what was happening.

Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have won God’s favour. You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High.

Remember that Mary is the only person completely free of the stain of original sin. Did she feel any different because of this? Was she less inclined to sin, or even disinclined to sin, because of this? Do the words “you have won God’s favour” suddenly make everything clear? Does she say to herself “I know it!” as a sudden realisation that she is different strikes her? Perhaps, but the next words remove any doubt and lead maybe to a feeling of unease, which is finally confirmed with

The Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and his reign will have no end.

Wait a minute! He is talking about the Messiah. There can be no doubt in the mind of any Jew exactly what that last sentence means; the angel is describing the Messiah. He is telling me I am to be the mother of the Messiah.

It speaks volumes that this girl — how old? 16? not much older or she would already be married not merely “betrothed” — has the presence of mind simply to ask for more details.

How can this be, since I am a virgin?

And Gabriel explains, adding:

And so the child will be holy and will be called the Son of God.

Because that is exactly what He will be and the implications of that I shall be writing about in my next post.

Meanwhile let us enjoy this short break in our Lenten journey and check that we are keeping to out penitential plans. And for those in the UK where mid-Lent Sunday is Mothers Day or Mothering Sunday, let us remember all the mothers in our family, our own mother but also any aunts, cousins, daughters, and let us ask the greatest Mother of them all for her help, support, and encouragement.

God bless!

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