Friday, March 24, 2023

The Annunciation March 25

On this Feast day of the Annunciation I want us to meditate on two very important things.

The first is the meaning of the Incarnation in light of the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. For, as soon as the Angel Gabriel announced to the blessed Virgin that she was to become the mother of God, the miracle happened. "The Word was made flesh" at the very instant that she accepted her mission with the words, "behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." 

The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46) tells of those on the Lord's right hand, to whom the words are spoken: "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world...Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." It also tells of those on his left to whom terrifying words are spoken: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting(1) fire, prepared for the devil and his angels...Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me." 

The Word became flesh, that is, he took into his Divine nature the fullness of human nature. In so doing he sanctified every stage of life, including that of the youngest and most helpless of all people. His brethren include children in the womb, boys and girls not "lumps of tissue," many of whom are murdered every day for the selfish convenience of fallen men who do not know God, who have allowed love to grow cold. The culture of death teaches us that life in the womb is worth nothing, a mere thing to be thrown away. Indeed, the pressure today is to accept birth as the beginning of life, when, in fact, it is simply an early stage in a life that has existed already, generally for about nine months. As Christians, we must continue to work for the sanctity of all life, from the moment of conception until death. We must do all we can to protect the children in danger, and to come as well to the rescue of expentent mothers who feel afraid, who feel undue pressure to kill their children before seeing their faces, and think they have no one to whom they can turn. We must be that lifeline to them. 

"Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. " We must also be champions of the poor, and in our own lives, from our own resources of money, time, and talent, generous to everyone in need when it is in our power. To turn away the poor begger is a sin of ommission against Christ. Look at the categories in the parable: The hungry and thirtsy, the stranger (immigrant), naked, sick or in prison (V. 35, 36, 42, 43).

If you profess the Incarnation with your mouth, then consider that Jesus Christ takes personally how you treat even the least of these whose human nature he graciously shares by his divine will. If you say that you love the Lord Jesus Christ, but show no mercy and compassion to the least of these, you are a liar, and your hypocrisy will be punished. If do love the Lord Jesus Christ, you will show mercy and compassion to the least of these, and it will bring you joy; both in this age, and in the age to come, and to the ages of ages. 

 Also, I want us to consider this miracle, the Incarnation, itself. I mentioned before that Mary accepted her mission, a mission that would bring such pain to her, one Friday, that it would be, in the words of Simeon, a sword that would pierce her own soul. Her willingness to accept this mission would be fulfilled thirty three years later by her son, as he would pray in his agony, "not my will, but thine be done." Mary was the only person to share directly the miracle of the Incarnation with the Lord himself. She also felt keenly the pain of his death.

What happened when the Word, that is the Logos (λόγος), was made flesh? How did God do this thing? Not by reducing Divinity so that it could fit into a small receptacle. Think of our human nature as but a drop. A drop that falls into an ocean is transformed into something grand, into part of an ocean. He did not reduce divinity. Rather, he took human nature into his own divine Person as God the Son. God the Son has taken human nature into His Divine Person, our created nature into uncreated Person. He has taken what is alien to Him, our humanity, as the One who is wholly other from every created nature, to forever transform human nature and by grace make us partakers of the Divine Nature (II Peter 1:4). This Person, the Logos, is both Uncreated and creature; both Eternal and in time; both omnipresent and local; both King and servant; both Lord and worshiper; both God and man.

This, the Incarnation, is, along with the cross, the expression and revelation of God's love; so it is fitting to remember that the Annunciation was originally thought to be the correct date of the first Good Friday. That love is the charity that St. Paul wrote about to the Corinthians, and is poured into our hearts by the Holy Ghost given to us.

The Angleus

V/. The Angel of the Lord brought tidings unto Mary,
R/. And she conceived by the Holy Ghost.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. (Lk 1:28) Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. (Lk 1:42). Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
V/. "Behold the handmaid of the Lord."
R/. "Be it unto me according to thy Word."

Hail Mary, full of grace...
V/. And the Word was made flesh,
R/. And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary, full of grace...
V/. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
R/. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts, that as we have known the Incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by His Cross and Passion we may be brought unto the glory of His Resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(1). Greek for "everlasting" is the word αἰώνιος (aiōnios), which indicates an age or eon, not eternity.

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