9 April – Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
The annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary by Gabriel the archangel that she was to be the Mother of God (Luke 1), the Word being made flesh through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The feast probably originated about the time of the Council of Ephesus (c. 431), and is first mentioned in the Sacramentary of Pope Gelasius (d. 496).
The Annunciation has been a key topic in Christian art in general, as well as in Roman Catholic Marian art, particularly during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It is represented in art by many masters, among them Fra Angelico, Hubert Van Eyck, Ghirlandajo, Holbein the Elder, Lippi, Pinturicchio, and Del Sarto.
The Annunciation is also mentioned twice in the Quran, the holy book for the Muslims.
– Patron Saint Index, Wikipedia
The Lord spoke to Ahaz and said, ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign for yourself coming either from the depths of Sheol or from the heights above.’ ‘No,’ Ahaz answered ‘I will not put the Lord to the test.’
Then he said:
Listen now, House of David: are you not satisfied with trying the patience of men without trying the patience of my God, too? The Lord himself, therefore, will give you a sign. It is this: the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel, a name which means ‘God is with us.’
Bulls’ blood and goats’ blood are useless for taking away sins, and this is what Christ said, on coming into the world:
You who wanted no sacrifice or oblation, prepared a body for me.
You took no pleasure in holocausts or sacrifices for sin; then I said, just as I was commanded in the scroll of the book, ‘God, here I am! I am coming to obey your will.’
Notice that he says first: You did not want what the Law lays down as the things to be offered, that is: the sacrifices, the oblations, the holocausts and the sacrifices for sin, and you took no pleasure in them; and then he says: Here I am! I am coming to obey your will. He is abolishing the first sort to replace it with the second. And this will was for us to be made holy by the offering of his body made once and for all by Jesus Christ.
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called 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 for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.
“But now, Lord, what do I look for?”
The call that Mary received from the Angel Gabriel was loud and clear. There was no doubt as to what God was asking of her, allowing her to construct a very real picture of how her life would turn out should she say yes. Thankfully, she responded dutifully and faithfully — a preamble to the greatest life ever lived and the most beautiful story ever told.
Some people discover their talents and passions early on in life. Others never find them. Some are stubborn and turn away from the direction God leads them in life, while others are oblivious to his promptings. Do we take the time to quieten our hearts and minds as we attune our senses to the Gabriels around us? Much as I would desire for God to speak to me in such a direct way, that is unlikely to happen. Instead, God has and will continue to nudge me in His ways through people, thoughts, and fervent prayer. The beauty of this process is the eventual ownership that we all take of our decisions in life. Decisions that can lead to flourishing or floundering.
As we all go through life discerning and deciding, one truth remains. Lives centered on God’s firm foundation and His word are lives that, while not necessarily easy, are fulfilling and joyful. Such people experience kairos, the phenomenon of having the right things happening for them at the right moments in life. Brothers and sisters in Christ, if that is what we desire so deeply, then are listening and acting actively?
(Today’s Oxygen by Anonymous)
Prayer: Dearest God, our hearts are sometimes closed and we refuse to listen. Help us to hear and obey your ever present calls to us.
Thanksgiving: We thank you Father for speaking to us in ways that only you know how. May we never forget how you’ve nurtured us over the years.