April 9, 2018


April 9, 2018:  Annunciation of the Lord

See about 15 connections with today?
Legend below

Pope Francis:  Gaudete et exsultate!
The Lord asks everything of us, and in return offers us true life, the happiness for which we were created.  How can we respond today to the call to holiness?  This apostolic exhortation reproposes the call to holiness in a practical way for today.
Holiness means following Jesus.  Contemporary gnosticism and contemporary pelagianism are subtle enemies of it.  The Beatitudes embody the meaning of holiness.  The gospel shows us how we'll be judged:  “I was hungry and you gave me food… thirsty and you gave me drink… a stranger and you welcomed me… naked and you clothed me… sick and you took care of me… in prison and you visited me.”
Certain aspects of the call to holiness are especially meaningful today:  perseverance, patience, meekness, joy, a sense of humor, boldness, passion, the communal dimension of holiness, and prayer.  Christian life is a constant battle.  We need strength and courage to withstand temptation and proclaim the Gospel.  We need vigilance and discernment.  I hope these pages will help enable the whole Church to devote herself anew to promoting the desire for holiness.  Full text
[I plan to "serialize" this exhortation, posting shorter summaries of short sections, as I did for Evangelii Gaudium, Laudato Si, and Amoris Laetitia.]
  • Is 7:10-14; 8:10  Lord / Ahaz:  "Ask for a sign!" / “No; I won't test God.”  Isaiah:  "The Lord will give you this sign:  the virgin shall bear a son, Emmanuel, 'God with us!'"
    The Annunciation/ Tissot
  • Ps 40:7-11  "Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will."  You wanted obedience, not sacrifice.  I delight in doing your will.  I announced your justice, faithfulness, kindness, and truth.
  • Heb 10:4-10  Bull/goat blood doesn't take away sins.  He says, “You didn't want sacrifices,” then, “I come to do your will,” taking away the first to establish the second.  We've been consecrated through the offering of the Body of Jesus.
  • Lk 1:26-38  God sent Gabriel to Mary betrothed to Joseph:  “Fear not; you'll bear a great son, Jesus, Son of the Most High, to rule forever.” / “How?” / “The Holy Spirit will come upon you....  'Barren' Elizabeth has also conceived; nothing will be impossible for God.” / “OK; I'm the Lord's handmaid.”
  • Why so late? As Fr. Joel points out, the Annunciation celebration is scheduled for March 25, but this year it was postponed to today because March 25 fell on Passion Sunday, and that day and every one since before today (Monday through Wednesday of Holy Week, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday/Easter Vigil, and each day in the octave of Easter) "trumped" this celebration even though it's a Solemnity of the Lord. Since if March 25 fell before Passion Sunday, it would have been celebrated then, this year has the longest possible delay between the scheduled and actual celebrations (15 days), and the celebration falls on the latest possible calendar day (April 9).
  • Poem:  Annunciation/ Levertov; link includes the last 18 lines, usually omitted.
  • Creighton:  The 1st reading is a prophet’s enigmatic prediction of a virgin bearing a son, Emmanuel, a sign that could only be significant if she didn't conceive in the ordinary way.  The gospel is of Mary’s encounter with the angel who announces the coming birth of Jesus and his special means of conception.  I'm inspired that the angel knew all about Mary.  Knowing and being known are such important dimensions of our relationships, where few may understand us.  And he reveals the mystery that she's to become Theotokos, God-bearer, Mother of God, fulfilling Isaiah's prophecy.  Mary asked how it could be, and when she didn't didn't get a full explanation, she didn't ask more questions.  She was given the consolation that her relative, Elizabeth, was also expecting.  Instead of focusing on her rights, interests, or discomfort, Mary offered herself to the Lord, embracing the status of a servant.  May her example be a source of faith and devotion for us.
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Our only hope":  Only Christians believe God became human.  We believe the Incarnation is our only hope.  The Jewish faith realizes there's a serious problem with the human race:  we need a new heart.  The Messiah is our only hope.  Catholics have traditionally prayed the Angelus at morning, noon, and evening to thank God for the Incarnation.  When we pray the rosary, we thank God for his Incarnation in the first joyful mystery and in each of the 53 Hail Marys.  Rejoice in the Incarnation always. When anyone asks the reason for your hope of ours, be ready to reply.
  • Passionist:  "Mary's 'yes'":  This year we celebrate the Annunciation during Easter.  She suffered with of her son in his Passion. and shares his redemptive suffering in his passover from death to victory.  Today invites us to enter the ‘love story’ as we hear Mary’s yes and stand with her at the cross, comforting her by our love, finding comfort as she shares with us the mystery of God’s love.
The long loneliness/ Eichenberg
In Eichenberg's ‘The Long Loneliness,’ Mary is seated, resting, leaning back, eyes closed. One hand rests on, the other below, her full and round stomach that shows her advanced in her pregnancy.  Whispering in her ear while hovering above her is Gabriel.  Between Mary and the angel the three Calvary crosses are seen in the distance, a small winding road leads from Mary to the crosses, and a flower blooms at her feet.  In the upper corner is the Holy Spirit, hovering over the cross, it rays touching Mary and the Child in her.  The artist blends Mary’s yes with her sharing in her Son's Passion. The angel who whispered may well have continued to as Mary listened to her Son during his ministry.  In the Passion Jesus does his Father's will, gives him glory, and is glorified by him.  Mary makes her will one with the Father's.  May we try to do what Jesus and Mary do, to know the Father’s will and make it ours.  We see Mary's sorrow at the cross as she shares her son's suffering.  She knows God is at work in the child she gave birth to.  To onlookers the crucifixion was the execution it was supposed to be, but she must have seen Jesus being rejected, God’s love being crucified.  The Annunciation led Mary to be Mother of Sorrows, but the seed she nurtured is the flowering of hope and the victory of love. Mary, help us say yes to God, and lead us into the mystery and to hope.
  • DailyScripture.net:  ""You have found favor with God":  "Show me a sign of Your favor."  God performed many signs to demonstrate his love and mercy, such as deliverance from slavery and the crossing of the Red Sea.  When King Ahaz was surrounded by forces threatening to destroy him and his people, God offered him a sign to reassure him God wouldn't abandon his promise to David and his descendants, but the king had lost hope and refused to ask for a sign.  God nonetheless gave a sign to assure his people he'd give them a Savior who'd rule with justice and peace.  We see the fulfillment of that prophecy and the unfolding of God's saving plan in the events leading to the Incarnation and the birth of the Messiah, beginning with the miraculous conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit's action on Mary.  As Eve was the mother of humanity doomed to sin, Mary becomes the mother of the new Adam, father of a new humanity by grace, fulfillment of God's promises.  The angel tells Mary, daughter of the house of David, the promise made to David.  When Mary heard God's message through Gabriel, she knew it was beyond human capability.  Her question wasn't out of doubt but wonder; she responded with faith, believing God's promises, impossible as they seemed.  She was willing and eager to do God's will, difficult as it seemed.  God gives us grace and expects us to respond with the same willingness, obedience, and trust; he gives us the help, strength, and means.  May we yield to his grace...."
  • Universalis:  "What if she'd said no?"  Mary had free will; she could have said No to God but said Yes.  Given biblical prophecy and genealogies, Gabriel couldn't have just asked someone else.  God who never abandons us would have found another way to save us working through human history, but how much longer would it have taken?  Each of us is here for a purpose.  If we say no, put it off, or say someone else will do it better or God will provide or that it really doesn’t matter, we're wrong.  The Annunciation story tells me it's my part and no one else can do it.  God didn't want Mary’s unthinking obedience but her full informed consent.  The two greatest miracles of the Annunciation are that God gave Mary wisdom to know the consequences of her decision, and that he gave her grace not to be overwhelmed by the knowledge.  When we come to a decision, we can be clouded by the possible consequences, even partial knowledge of them.  How can we move when there's so good and evil either way?  God’s grace will give us strength to move.  God doesn't demand that our decisions be correct, just rightly made.  The Almighty created heaven, earth, the sun, and the stars, but when he really wants something done, he comes, to one of his poor, weak creatures and asks.  He continues to ask....
Dress legend
  • "Happy birthday, Jesus" pin:  "Ahaz, ask for a sign" (1st reading) [today's tie trumped my 'signs' tie]; Annunciation led to Jesus' birth (gospel)
  • 'Heart' pin:  Your law is in my heart (psalm)
  • 'Blood drop' pin:  Bull or goat blood can't take away sins (2nd reading)
  • 'Scroll' pin:  "In the scroll it's prescribed that I do your will" (psalm, 2nd reading)
  • 'Dove' pin:  The Holy Spirit conceived Jesus (gospel)
  • 'Angel,' 'Mary' pins:  Gabriel's annunciation to Mary (gospel)
  • '?' tie pin:  "How can this be?" (gospel)
  • "No-'L'" pin:  Christmas, Noël; Gospel is from Luke's infancy narrative
  • 'Phone' tie bar:  God's 'call' to Mary through Gabriel
  • White shirt:  Today's liturgical color

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