We find ourselves nine months from the Solemnity of the Nativity observing yet another solemnity, that of the Annunciation of the Lord. It is the second of two annunciation stories told in the Gospel of St. Luke. First we hear of the annunciation made to Zechariah of the coming birth of his son. Both stories start with essential information; namely, the setting and an introduction of the characters. Surprisingly, while the annunciation of the birth of John takes place in the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Jerusalem, the annunciation of Jesus’ birth takes place in the humble home of the woman chosen to be his mother. One would think the evangelist got things a little mixed up. Shouldn’t the annunciation of the Messiah take place in the Temple?
Some might simply answer that question by saying: “Well, that’s the way it happened! Can’t change the facts.” Actually, St. Luke was being somewhat clever by placing these two stories side by side in the first chapter of his Gospel. The story of Jesus begins in the humble dwelling of his Virgin Mother, but when he reaches the age of maturity, he is found in the Temple, teaching the teachers. The trajectory of the story informs us of much more than the location of this event. The infancy narrative of St. Luke tells us just how the story will play out. Jesus will be known as the Master, as Teacher, as the Christ, and eventually as the Son of God – Emmanuel, God with us.
The annunciation of the birth of Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation. Isaiah foretold this moment when 600 years beforehand he recorded the prophecy of the virgin who will be with child and would give birth to Jesus. The name Yeshua means “the one who saves.”
The moment when God enters into time is unrepeatable and unique. God chooses to become human. The story of the annunciation illuminates another story – our own, with a setting of here and now and with each one of us and God as the characters in the story. The God of the Universe, who has no beginning and no end, desires to be in a relationship with us. Mary’s “fiat” brings God’s desire to fruition. By cooperating with God’s grace, and offering ourselves in freedom to do his will, we offer our own “fiat” to God. Through God’s grace and the gift of faith, God is able to come more fully into our lives and into our world.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator