Monday, March 25, 2019

The Annunciation

   It is fitting that, as we move toward the celebration of the Paschal Mystery, we pause to celebrate the moment when God revealed his will that his Word should take on the reality of human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, for without the assent of the Virgin there is no redemption from our sins, no victory of the Cross over sin and death, no resurrection, no eternal life with God.
  Through Jesus’ sacrifice our human nature has been transformed from within; we have been given access to God’s own holiness. Mary’s “Yes” is the fruit of this reconciliation achieved through the Cross of her Son. It is through the redemption he won for us that she possesses the purity and holiness to utter her “Yes.” 
   Mary placed herself at the service of God’s call in complete surrender: with the whole strength and depth of her ability; in both strength and weakness. In strength, in that she is ready for whatever the Lord asks; in weakness, in that her whole life has already been placed at his disposal. She lives from the recognition that everything good comes to her from God, by herself she is nothing. God alone has the power to make her life fruitful. Mary is weak enough to acknowledge that God alone has all the power, but strong enough to offer him her life without reserve. God also calls us to this complete surrender.
   Mary’s assent is in a special way an act of the Holy Spirit through whose effect she gives herself soul and body to God. At the time of her overshadowing, the Spirit flooding through her will meet with the Spirit already dwelling within her. Mary’s Yes will be as though enclosed within a Yes of the Spirit. Enveloped in this way in the Holy Spirit, Mary’s assent, as grace truly given and received in her own spirit, will become a true, free and independent word of her own spirit.
   The action of the Spirit becomes a word of her own spirit first of all in renunciation.  Mary renounces herself, in order to let God alone become active in her. Mary makes every potentiality of her nature accessible to the divine action. She renounces all self-shaping of her own existence, so that God can make of her what he wishes. Likewise, if we are to become the self God intends, we need to renounce ourselves and trust enough to place all the good potentialities God has bestowed on us at his disposal to be used as he sees fit.
   From renunciation follows cooperation. Mary resolves to let God alone work; and yet, precisely by virtue of this resolution, she becomes cooperative. Every renunciation made in love is fruitful because it makes room for consent to God, who is waiting for our consent so that he can go to work in us. 
   From cooperation there follows fulfillment. In renouncing all her potentialities, Mary obtains their fulfillment beyond all expectation: cooperative in body, she becomes the mother of the Lord; cooperative in spirit, she becomes his handmaid and his bride. As our spiritual mother, every grace Mary has received is in principal open to us, and she wishes us to share in it as well. We turn to her in confidence, that she may accompany us as, open to the Lord’s will, we move through this holy season toward the events of Holy Week and Easter.
Annunciation by Fra Angelico. Excerpts from this morning's homily by Father Timothy.