My Dear Sisters and Brothers! Some could conclude saying that the people at the service were absentminded, but I would offer a different explanation. The prayer which, as Christians, we have engraved in our memory is just a quotation from the Holy Scriptures. The prayer comes from the Scriptures and it belongs to the Scriptures. As it wove so profoundly through our days and the nights when we pray it, it makes our human story filled with God’s word and ultimately it mingles us with the Story of Salvation proclaimed in the Scriptures.
Sometime later as I was reflecting on that joined proclamation of the Gospel I saw it as a communal acknowledgment of us belonging to the Bible. Through Jesus’ tactic of teaching his disciple, and us too, how to pray he has drawn us to the source of all prayers, the Sacred Word.
On this most holy day of the Annunciation we are also given a Gospel with a familiar sentence: “Hail Mary full of grace. The Lord is with you.” For us Catholics it is the beginning of the second most popular and loved prayer. Again it is a sentence taken from the Bible. It is the sentence which actually is not about Mary. Can you still recall the whole event we heard of in the Gospel reading a few minutes ago? Could you summarise it in one sentence? What about this sentence? The Only begotten Son of God was being incarnated. The Son of God took flesh.
The story of God becoming a human being is not a Christmas Story but it is the story of this Solemnity we are celebrating right now. It is the story of the Annunciation. It is the story which will always challenge any filmmaker as they usually fail to capture the essence of the event. The essence is not about what can be seen: Mary, the Angel or a house in Nazareth but the essence is about what cannot be seen. It is about the beginning of the human existence of Jesus Christ.
My Dear fellow believers! We remember the visits paid by the shepherds and the Magi to the Baby Jesus, but for centuries women and men of faith have been returning, in their prayers of love and awe, to that inconspicuous moment when God the Son became man; when the Divine Story of the Most
Blessed Trinity merged with the story of humankind in the inseparable way. From that moment when upon Mary’s Fiat (Yes) to God’s request the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, must be worshiped, contemplated and loved as God and man in one person.
Today’s feast doesn’t stop activates like Christmas does. I believe that is the way God wants it to have it celebrated. In the hustle and bustle of big cities and small villages, because it was the way he chose to begin his human existence that day in Nazareth when Gabriel came with Good News to Mary and that Good News was the Son she was to give birth to.
During the Creed today at the words: “For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven” we will genuflect to express our awe at the mystery of the Incarnation, at the mystery of God becoming man. As we pray Hail Mary we can hope that Mary’s sentiments may be ours, not only to bend our knees but to bend our wills to God’s holy will, for his glory and for salvation of our brothers and sisters who all have God for their Father and creator.