Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Feast of the Annunciation

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation, which celebrates the announcement, made by the Angel Gabriel, that Mary would conceive the child Jesus. We celebrate the fact that Mary was chosen to bear the Son of God made man.

As with all the Feasts involving Mary, Christ is always at the center of the celebration. Mary’s life is celebrated by Catholics precisely because she “magnifies” the Lord, as she says in the Magnificat (Luke 1:46). The powerful events in her life point us to a deeper understanding of Jesus.

Obviously the key to appreciating the significance of the Annunciation is the reality of the Incarnation – that God became flesh and dwelt among us. Mary’s participation in this event is the primary focus of this Feast Day. Much could be said about the importance of this Christological doctrine and why it is celebrated in the humble person of the peasant girl, Mary of Nazareth.

But more specifically, a thought occurred to me today as I pondered recent political events and the prevailing evils of the culture at large. How wonderful it is that the Church in her wisdom has seen fit on her Liturgical Calendar to count back precisely nine months from December 25, to toady – March 25 – and mark the conception of our Savior. What a fitting reminder of the sacredness of life from the moment of conception. In this time of “abortion on demand” and the “culture of death,” it is good to pause and reflect that God so humbled Himself, to make Himself vulnerable, fragile, as a newly conceived child.

At that moment of conception God entered the world, helpless and in need of protection. The power-that-be wanted this child dead. His mother was unwed and facing the social stigma of conceiving a child who was not her husband’s. Even her husband-to-be, Joseph, struggled with how to deal with this un-expected pregnancy. It took an Angel and a message from God to convince Joseph to care for the child as his own.

Today we face imposing obstacles in our struggle to protect unborn life. It may seem that the culture, indeed the whole world, is against us in this fight. But on this Feast of the Annunciation we can seek solidarity with the unborn Christ. Perhaps in the coming nine months we can mark the days of his development and follow Mary as she awaits her new arrival. And we can hope that one day all the unborn are anticipated with joy and love.

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