Today we commemorate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, the great announcement that began with the Protoevangelium (First Gospel) in Genesis 3:15 and traveled throughout the Old Testament Scriptures reaching this point in Luke 1 (and Matthew 1). The heavens opened and the Angel Gabriel after 450 years (read Dn 9) came to Mary declaring this wonderful news of the Birth of the Messiah.
Being that I am huge fan and supporter of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and having read lots of his writings, it is my opinion that many Catholics in the Church don’t appreciate the giant theologian that we have in our presence today. I, along with many others, think we have one of the greatest theological minds the Catholic Church has seen in centuries – yes, I said centuries! Reading Benedict gives me great love for Biblical Theology, but it also teaches me that I have much to learn. I take it upon myself to provide you with some of his words on the Annunciation from his book – Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives. With that being said, I give you some excerpts on the Annunciation from the man himself –
“Let us turn now to the promise. Mary is to bear a child, to whom the angel assigns the titles “Son of the Most High” and “Son of God.” Moreover, it is promised that God, the Lord, will give the throne of his father David. He will rule over the house of Jacob for ever, and his kingdom (his reign) will 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 called holy, the Son of God” (Lk 1:35).”
“…In terms of the language used, it belongs to the theology of the Temple and of God’s presence in the sanctuary. The sacred cloud – the shekinah – is the visible sign of God’s presence. It conceals the fact that God is dwelling in his house, yet at the same time points to it. The cloud that casts its shadow over come men comes back later in the account of the Lord’s transfiguration (cf. Lk 9:34; Mk 9:7). Again it is a sign of God’s presence, of God’s self-revelation in hiddenness. So the reference to the overshadowing by the Holy Spirit brings us back to the Zion theology of the salutation. Once again Mary appears as God’s living ten, in which he chooses to dwell among men in a new way.”
Speaking about the Fiat of Mary, her “Yes”, Benedict says,
“In one of his Advent homilies, Bernard of Clairvaux offers a stirring presentation of the drama of this moment. After the error of our first parents, the whole world was shrouded in darkness, under the domain of death. Now God seeks to enter the world anew. He knocks at Mary’s door. He needs human freedom. The only way he can redeem man, who was created free, is by means of a free “yes” to his will. In creating freedom, he made himself in a certain sense dependent upon man. His power is tied the unenforceable “yes” of a human being. So Bernard portrays heaven and earth as it were holding its breath at this moment of the question addressed to Mary. Will she say yes? She hesitates…will her humility hold her back? Just this once – Bernard tells her – do not be humble but daring! Give us your “yes”!…It is the moment of free, humble yet magnanimous obedience in which the loftiest choice of human freedom is made.”
“Mary becomes a mother through her “yes.” The Church Fathers sometimes expressed this by saying that Mary conceived through her ear – that is to say: through her hearing. Through her obedience, the Word entered into her and became fruitful in her. In this connection, the Fathers developed the idea of God’s birth in us through faith and baptism, in which the Logos comes to make us ever anew, making us God’s children.”
As we commemorate this great and holy solemnity, let us pray that we can always have the ability to say “Yes” to Our Lord when He knocks at our door. Let us always have a Marian disposition to our souls and lives as Catholic Christians. Like Mary who questioned the angel, not with doubt, but with awe – let us pray that we can come to know God’s will for our lives without doubting him. Lord – help us to align our wills with your will, as Mary humbly aligned her will with your will.