The Annunciation of the Lord
We celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. The encounter between the Angel Gabriel and the Blessed Virgin Mary changed human history forever. It provides the setting of the Incarnation, when “the Word became flesh.”
The Incarnation is the Miracle of Miracles. Incarnation: the all-powerful, infinite Son of God humbling and emptying himself… being born of a woman… becoming powerless, helpless, vulnerable… dwelling among us… becoming like us. St. Paul uses the term “kenosis” – meaning self-emptying. God emptied himself to be human like us.
And an indispensable part of the Miracle of the Incarnation is God choosing, calling, inviting human participation. Part of it is God appealing to mere human instruments. For the Incarnation, which is the high-point of God’s work of salvation, to happen, it needed five YESES. The YES of the Father. The YES of the Son (the Logos, the Christ). The YES of the Holy Spirit. The YES of Mary. The YES Joseph. Given these five yeses, if just one of them said NO, it would have changed everything: the history of salvation would not have unfolded, the way it unfolded.
Today’s gospel passage highlights Mary’s YES – her fiat. Without the yes of Mary, the Incarnation could not have unfolded in the way that it unfolded. In other words, if Mary did not say fiat, the Word would not have become Flesh, Jesus would not have been born, Christ would not have lived among us. Imagine: If Mary did not say her YES, then God – Father, Son, and Spirit – could not have saved us the way they wanted to save us. Imagine also if Joseph did not say his YES to God.
What we have here is a God calling for human participation in his saving work. Today’s feast is a reminder that God is inviting each of us to participate in his work of salvation. God is appealing for our own yes or fiat.
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” This fiat of Mary is her perfect prayer of surrender to the will of God. And it is also the perfect model for how we all must respond to the will of God. We must see ourselves as true servants of God’s will. And we must fully embrace whatsoever God asks of us – completely uniting our wills to his will.
Just like Mary, we are also called to take part in God’s work of salvation. We, too, are called to incarnate Jesus… called to bring forth Jesus to the world… called to make the kingdom of mercy, compassion and love a concrete reality in the lives of people, especially, the least, the last and the lost. May we have the availability and willingness of Mary to allow ourselves be the servants of the Lord, to allow the Holy Spirit to come upon us and the power of the Most High to overshadow us. May we have the faith and trust of Mary to believe that yes, it is true with God nothing is impossible!
May the fiat or yes of Mary inspire us to build our life upon saying YES to God in the ordinary situations of our life. Yes, to spending enough time in prayer everyday – putting it on top of our priorities. Yes, to treating others as brothers and sisters – even those who are not brotherly or sisterly. Yes, to serving our community and being good stewards – sharing our time, talent, and treasure. Yes, to being good news to the poor, feeding the hungry, helping the needy, comforting the sad, caring for the sick, Yes, to being faithful to our vows or commitments – be in marriage or religious life. Yes, to forgiving those who have hurt us and to reconciling with them.
By abandoning ourselves to God, by uniting our will to his will, by giving our fiat to him, like the Blessed Virgin Mary, we incarnate God, we incarnate Jesus. With Mary, may we be able to say with faith: “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”