Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord: Mary's Yes Invites Our Response
When Mary spoke those few words, human history was forever changed
"What came about in bodily form in Mary, the fullness of the godhead shining through Christ in the Blessed Virgin, takes place in a similar way in every soul that has been made pure. The Lord does not come in bodily form, for ´we no longer know Christ according to the flesh´, but He dwells in us spiritually and the Father takes up His abode with Him, the Gospel tells us. In this way the child Jesus is born in each of us." (St. Gregory of Nyssa)
The Angel appeared to Mary
CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - March 25 is the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar. This year, the Solemnity falls during Lent. Canon # 1251 of the Code of Canon Law reads "Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday."
So, we do not fast - we feast on Friday. Why? Because the Solemnity takes precedence. It invites us into mystery. The mystery of Mary's cooperation in God's plan. Also, our cooperation in God's plan. In the midst of all of the challenges we face as Catholic Christians in a Culture which has forgotten God, we celebrate God's loving plan and the remember the heart of the Christian message, conversion through Jesus Christ.
The great event of the Annunciation reveals the path to salvation and to cultural recovery. The little Virgin of Nazareth teaches us how to live our real lives in a real world! When the Angel of the Lord appeared, bearing the message and calling her to a special mission, she said "YES." We must say "Yes" as well and believe that "nothing is impossible with God." Let's consider her response to the message: "I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be to me according to your Word." It is in these words that we discover the heart of the Christian vocation.
"What came about in bodily form in Mary, the fullness of the godhead shining through Christ in the Blessed Virgin, takes place in a similar way in every soul that has been made pure. The Lord does not come in bodily form, for ´we no longer know Christ according to the flesh´, but He dwells in us spiritually and the Father takes up His abode with Him, the Gospel tells us. In this way the child Jesus is born in each of us." Gregory of Nyssa
When Mary spoke those words, human history was forever changed. They came from a deep spiritual reservoir within the heart of a young Jewish girl who was in love with the God of her fathers - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Mary´s "Yes" is called the Fiat: in Latin, "Let it be done." Mary´s Fiat was spoken from a heart filled with love for God. In a Biblical context, "heart" is a word that means much more than the fleshy organ at the center of our chest cavity. It refers to our center, the core of each of us, the place where our deepest identity is rooted, and from which our fundamental choices about life are made. Mary´s words proceeded from a humble heart.
This young woman was not full of herself, not self-protective, not cynical, she was emptied, in order to be filled. She was therefore able to completely surrender herself in love, to Love. Her initial assent to the Angel Gabriel´s announcement reveals the very meaning of another Biblical word, "holy". holiness is not about looking pious. It is about being selfless. Mary was holy, and she shows us the way to become holy, too.
In the original languages, the words in Holy Scripture which are translated into the English word "holy" mean set apart or consecrated, entirely dedicated to God´s service, given over to God and His worship. If we want to be holy, we need to explore the meaning of these words and make them our own. We are also called to be set apart for the living God. We are to make a place for Him within ourselves and within the world. We are to bear His message through a lifestyle that radiates His love.
It is only by being set apart and consecrated that our own personal histories can be truly transformed. This happens through conversion, or "metanoia", which, in Greek, means "to change." Our hope for change, for becoming holy, is to open our lives to the One who is the source of all goodness and holiness, Jesus Christ. We are called to respond to His invitation, to say "Yes" to a relationship with Him.
This is what Mary´s Fiat is all about. In saying Yes to God, as Mary did, we are able to discover the path to conversion, to holiness, to authentic spirituality. Our call to embrace the Fiat and to make it our own is not a formula for easy spiritual growth, nor is it the first in a series of steps that lead to solving the problems of life. The spiritual life is a path, a Way, and it involves a continuing, ongoing walk with the Lord.
He has invited each of us into an intimate, personal, exchange of love. This kind of intimacy with a living, loving God is the interior meaning of Mary´s Fiat, her Magnificat, and her way of life. When we embrace Mary´s Prayer and make it our own, we allow the Love that Mary bore in her body to be incarnated in and through us, too.
Each of us can say "Yes" to God, ...
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