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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Feast of the Annunciation

December 25 was the date to celebrate the birth of Christ by the fourth century; then a feast was celebrated for the conception of Jesus on March 25. It is a feast that is worth meditating on over and over again. According to Luke, "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." What a wealth of information is contained in that one sentence even before we know why God sent Gabriel to this little town of Nazareth.

When the angel greets Mary, she "was greatly troubled" and pondered what sort of greeting this might be for the angel had said to her, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." We greet Mary with these same words ever time we say the "Hail Mary"; it is a prayer that pleases her now. I think being greeted by an angel would upset anyone. Gabriel hastens to tell her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." I think we hear those same words often in our own hearts as Jesus is always coming to tell us not to fear for we are loved by God. However, the rest of the message was a startling one that has become one of the great and joyful mysteries of our faith. "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."

Mary, after asking how this can be possible, accepts and the course of the world is changed. God becomes man! May we feel awe, gratitude, love and joy as we contemplate this great mystery. May we also learn to trust God and his mysterious ways.

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