Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Today is the Feast of Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin' s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.
Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1, 26–35)
The Angel Gabriel set foot on the earth and announced to the Virgin of Nazareth the birth of a son who was to be the Messiah. Gabriel experienced his greatest day when he brought the glad tidings to Mary. That hour was the greatest for both Mary and the angel. One can hardly take his eye from the picture of Mary and the angel; the graciousness and festive joy, from that golden aura of Gabriel’s splendor and Mary’s perfect readiness for God.
Mary beheld the angel with bodily eyes, as the Gospel clearly states: "When the angel had come to her" (Luke 1: 28). To Mary was given at that moment not only a mental cognition, but a visible apparition. This visibleness of an invisible world was closely interwoven with the uniqueness of that hour. Gabriel knelt in human form before Mary who was soon to conceive God not only in spirit, but in the flesh. The Gospel indeed relate, even with strong emphasis, that Mary was troubled, not with the vision but on account of the angel's greetings and its significance. The angel himself was viewed by Mary with the calm wonderment of a child who sees a golden star approaching.
St. Alphonsus Liguori wrote in book “Glories of Mary”:
1. When God wished to send his Son to make himself man that he might redeem lost man, he chose for him a virgin mother, among all virgins the most pure, the most holy, and the most humble. And behold, whilst Mary was in her poor dwelling praying to God for the coming of the Redeemer, an angel appears and salutes her, and says to her: "Hail full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women." And what does the humble Virgin when she hears such words in her honor? She is not elated, but is silent and troubled, esteeming herself too unworthy of these praises. She was troubled at his saying: "Turbata est in sermone ejus." Oh Mary, thou so humble and I so proud, obtain for me holy humility.
2. Did not those praises, at least, cause Mary to suspect that she was the destined mother of the Redeemer? No, they only caused her to conceive a great fear of herself. Wherefore it was necessary that he should encourage her not to be afraid: "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God."* And then he announced to her that she was chosen to be mother of the Savior of the world: "Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus." Blessed art thou, oh Mary! How dear thou wast and art to thy God! Have pity on me.
3. Take courage, says St. Bernard, addressing her; why delay, holy Virgin, in giving thy con sent? The eternal Word awaits it, in order to clothe himself with flesh, and become thy Son. We, who are all condemned to eternal death, are waiting for it in misery; if thou dost accept and consent to be his mother, we shall all be delivered. Quickly, oh Lady, answer; do not delay giving to the world that salvation which depends on thy consent. But rejoice, for Mary already answers to the angel: Behold, she says, the servant of the Lord, bound to do whatever her Lord commands :J if he chooses a servant for his mother, the servant is not to be praised, but only the goodness of God, who wishes thus to honor her. Oh Mary, most humble, thou, by thy humility, hast so enamored thy God that thou hast constrained him to make himself thy Son and our Redeemer. I know that thy Son denies the nothing that thou dost ask ; ask of him to give me his holy love; ask of him to pardon me all the offences which I have committed against him; ask of him to give me perseverance until death. In a word, recommend to him my soul, for thy recommendations are never rejected by a Son who loves thee so much. Oh Mary, thou must save me: thou art my hope.