25 Mar – 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.
This feast is celebrated on March 25, nine months before the feast of the Nativity of Jesus (Christmas) on Dec 25.
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 Isaiah 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.
Is it not enough for you to weary people, must you also weary my God?
Things have gotten a bit surreal here in America. Schools have closed, grocery stores have been mobbed, and all over, there’s an eerie sense of America hunkering down for what’s shaping up to be a lost year. Who would’ve thought that in the space of a month, the world as I’ve always known it would have upended itself and turned completely on its head? It’s only March but already I feel worn down. I’m tired. Like Ahaz, I’m afraid to hope, afraid of what’s to come, afraid even to pray because I can’t find the words.
When you’re exhausted, it’s easy to let fatigue cloud your judgment. The isolation and loneliness from all this ‘social distancing’ isn’t helping either. I’m trying to hold on to the light. Whether it be turning off the doomsayers on TV or weeding in the garden or listening to a Lenten podcast, I’m trying to stay positive. But positivity takes effort. Holding on to hope takes effort. Happiness takes effort. And some days, I feel like I just haven’t got it. I’ve seen a lot of panics before but not one quite like this. Will life go back to the way it used to be? I really don’t know.
I can’t imagine what it must have been like, for Israel to hold on to the hope of a Savior for so long. I feel like such a wimp by comparison. Some people are just built for the long haul. They’re made of the strong stuff. They find reserves to keep the flame burning. I don’t think that person is me. How did Mary find the nerve to say, “Let it be done unto me”? Did she know the full extent of what she was getting into or did it not matter to her? Is that what it means for the “Holy Spirit to come upon you, and the power of the Most High to overshadow you”? Because I could really do with some of that right now. I don’t think I’ve lost my faith, but I am shaken by what’s happened and the speed at which it’s happening. God be with all of us now.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for faith, for strength, for positivity and patience during this difficult and surreal time in the world. We pray that God sustains us emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually, so that we in turn can be strong for our friends and families. And we pray for the wisdom to make good decisions during this difficult time.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all the first responders, doctors, nurses and healthcare workers who are at the front line of this global health crisis. God keep them safe, give them strength, give them courage. All things are possible through you, Lord! All things!