I WANTED to continue the theme of the Annunciation because the words of Gabriel give us an insight into the mind of God and the meaning of eternity and infinity.
Let us clear up one misunderstanding first. There are those (and always will be) who take Gabriel’s message as recorded by Luke as simply a piece of story telling, a sort of parable or myth, or in current fashionable parlance “fake news”.
We are fairly sure from the differences between his Gospel and the others that he was a confidant of Our Lady; he includes details that could only have come from that source. So we either believe that Gabriel’s words as she remembers them are as Luke recounts them or Mary or Luke were making it all up. What we need to remember is that is not belief in the Annunciation that makes us Christians but our belief as Christians that lead us to believe in the details of the Annunciation.
So what are those details, exactly?
He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and his reign have no end.
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 holy; he will be called Son of God.
I’m sure none of my readers need a lesson in the mechanics of conception. Where God is involved as the male partner things are likely to be done slightly differently. It is worth noting that, unless I am very much mistaken, parthenogenetic offspring in humans would in all instances be female. Since Jesus was demonstrably male it is certain that His Father provided, by miraculous means the necessary seed.
I have dwelt on this aspect for a minute or two because it is vital to what comes next. Since the conception was “normal” even if the process was miraculous Jesus is not only demonstrably male, he is also demonstrably human, carrying his mother’s genes and DNA. But since his father was God, he is also demonstrably God since God is eternal, infinite, indivisible. You cannot be half God and half man like a centaur is half man and half horse.
God could (in theory) have chosen any method he liked to effect mankind’s redemption; He could simply have pardoned the entire human race on the grounds that what Adam did is not his offspring’s fault (except that in the terms of the original deal the guilt persists, hence original sin — too deep for us today!); He chose not to do that but to make it possible for mankind to regain his favour by some supreme act of sacrifice. But how?
God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3.16)
The sacrifice, the atonement, had to come from mankind. But mankind is flawed and anyway how can the created atone for its sins to the Creator? Only a man who is also God Himself has the stature to provide the sacrifice needed to atone for humanity’s disobedience to and abandonment of its Creator. And the Creator willed that this should happen because He loved mankind so much that he allowed His Son to be born into the human race and offer His own life to reconcile mankind to God.
And that is the miracle of the Annunciation, that a young girl faced with the most awesome responsibility any human being has ever faced, said simply:
Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.
And in so doing freed the entire human race from the bondage of sin.