Gospel Reflections

Feast of the Annunciation

Luke 1:26-38

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Mary Ann Cook

Published: April 04, 2016


Joseph Ratzinger, in his book Mary, the Church at Its Source, offers profound reflections on Mary’s part in the mystery we celebrate today. He speaks of Mary as the “good soil” accepting and patiently nurturing the Incarnate Word of God. At the very core of her being, Mary “makes room” for God to come into our world, transforming it into a new creation vibrant with God’s own life.

Mary’s role in salvation history is both crucial and unique. From all eternity, God has known her, loved her, prepared her to accept, in total freedom, her mission in God’s saving plan. What Ephesians says of all of us applies in a particular way to her: She is God’s “handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that [she] should live in them (Eph. 2: 10).” Blessed “with every spiritual blessing” (Eph. 1: 3), she is indeed, as Gabriel proclaims in today’s Gospel, “full of grace” – full of God’s Holy Spirit. In the “good soil” of her heart, she carries Jesus, God-with-us.

Today’s readings also bring out the resonance of Mary’s self-gift with that of her divine Son. Just as Luke’s gospel gives us Mary’s unconditional response to God’s call:

Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word;

So the second reading gives us the response of God’s own Son at the moment of the Incarnation:

. . . As is written of me in the scroll, behold, I come to do your will, O God (Hebrews 10: 4-10).

And today’s Liturgy of the Word does not allow us to be detached bystanders, looking on as the saving mystery of the Incarnation unfolds. Instead, in the refrain of the Responsorial Psalm, it challenges us to give our own response. We become participants in God’s saving plan, as we pray the Responsorial Psalm (Ps. 40):

Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!

Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Today’s liturgy reminds us that our response to God’s call, like Mary’s, has ramifications for all people.

Elsewhere, in the Office of Readings for December 20, there is a homily by St. Bernard, in which he imagines the whole world awaiting Mary’s reply to Gabriel’s message:

You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son …. The angel awaits an answer …. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion …. The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. … In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life…. This is what the whole earth waits for …, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for … the whole of your race.
… Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter.

Behold, the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.

In our humbler but no less real way, may we, like Mary, be good soil for God’s own kind purposes to take root and grow in us and through us. May we give ourselves unconditionally to whatever “good works” God has prepared for us “in advance.” For we, too, have a part to play in mediating the compassionate, saving love of God in our world today.

Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

 

 

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