Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Annunciation. The story is related in detail in Holy Scripture. “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, ‘Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.’ Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1: 26-28, 30-33, 35, 38)
The moment that the Blessed Virgin consented with her fiat and said ‘yes’ the Eternal Word was incarnated in the womb of Mary. St. Alphonsus de Liguori, an Italian saint of the 18th Century and a Doctor of the Church, says of Mary’s ‘yes’, “O, what more beautiful, more humble, or more prudent answer could all the wisdom of men and angels together have invented, had they reflected for a million years? O powerful answer, which rejoiced heaven, and brought an immense sea of graces and blessings into the world! – answer which had scarcely fallen from the lips of Mary, before it drew the only begotten Son of God from the bosom of his Eternal Father, to become man in her most pure womb!” (The Glories of Mary, p. 356-357)
The Solemnity of the Annunciation is usually celebrated by the Church on March 25th, exactly nine months before Christmas when the Church celebrates the Birth of Jesus. The Church arranges the calendar in such ways many times during the year to facilitate devotion. This year the Annunciation was transferred to March 26th because the 25th was a Sunday and that Lord’s Day celebration of the Resurrection trumps all other celebrations!
A similar transferral of this feast occurred the year that St. Therese entered the Carmelite Monastery. She writes that, “The day chosen for my entrance into Carmel was April 9, 1888, the same day the community was celebrating the feast of the Annunciation, transferred because of Lent.” (Story of A Soul, p. 147) On the same feast that Therese commenced her journey of the cross which is the religious life, Jesus was Incarnated and began his inexorable journey toward His Cross upon which He died for love of us! “Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather, he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men. He was known to be of human estate, and it was thus that he humbled himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross! Because of this, God highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name above every other name, so that at Jesus’ name every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father: JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!” (Philippians 2: 6-11)
Happy Solemnity of the Annunciation!