Monday, 4 April 2016

The Solemnity of the Annunciation

Mary, in her selflessness, opened herself to the grace of God through the archangel Gabriel because through her faith, she knew that it was a divine message from God. She listened, received and responded and in so doing, she shows us the way to respond to God's call in our own lives. God desires to have a relationship with each one of us and we are therefore invited to surrender ourselves to the holy will of God by accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour not just once but daily.
March 25 is normally the date when we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. However, due to the calendar this year, since this Solemnity clashed with Good Friday, preference was given to Good Friday, leaving today (the first open day outside the octave of Easter) free to celebrate the Solemnity.

The full meaning of Mary's cooperation in God's plan has inspired some of the most profound reflection in the Christian tradition. As well it should. She freely chose to say YES. Our first reading at Mass today is taken from the messianic Prophet Isaiah, and places the event within the fulfillment of God's plan and the answer to His promise to Israel. "Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel, which means "God is with us!" (Isaiah 7). 
 The encounter between Mary and the Angel opens up the meaning of our own lives, by shedding light on our call to participate in God's loving plan. In the midst of all of the challenges we face as Catholic Christians in a Culture which has forgotten God, we are invited to celebrate God's loving plan - and to remember the great liberating promise of the Gospel is intended for all men and women. We are the bearers of Good News in an age of bad news.
The little Virgin of Nazareth teaches us how to live our Christian life. When the Angel of the Lord appeared, bearing the message and calling her to a special mission, she said "YES."  We must say "Yes" as well and believe that "nothing is impossible with God." 

Let's consider her response to the message: "I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be to me according to your Word."  It is in these words that we can discover the heart of every Christian vocation.
Mary´s "Yes" is called the Fiat:  in Latin, "Let it be done." Mary´s Fiat was spoken from a heart filled with love for God. In a Biblical context, "heart" is a word that means much more than the fleshy organ at the center of our chest cavity. It refers to our center, the core of each of us, the place where our deepest identity is rooted, and from which our fundamental choices about life are made.

Mary´s words proceeded from her humble, surrendered heart. This young woman was not full of herself, not self-protective, not cynical; she was emptied, in order to be filled. She was therefore able to completely surrender herself in love, to Love, and be filled with His Life for others. 
The encounter between Mary and the Angel opens up the meaning of our own lives, by shedding light on our call to participate in God's loving plan.

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