Heaven and Earth Hold their Breath

Challenge: Strive to see how Jesus, the perfect man, lived the virtue that you seek in your spiritual growth.
by Father Patrick Butler, LC | Source: Catholic.net

March 25, 2009
The Annunciation of the Lord 

Luke 1: 26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, oh full of grace! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.

Introductory Prayer: Father, I desire to enter into the mystery of the incarnation of your Son today. The instant of the Annunciation of the Lord to Mary and the Incarnation of Christ marks a watershed in human history. Before it, you seemed so transcendent, distant. But this moment reveals that the Emmanuel, God-with-us, has come to meet us. He permits me to enter into your intimacy through prayer. With renewed faith, hope and love and with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, I desire to enter into this mystery.

Petition: Lord, fill my heart with joy and gratitude as I contemplate your Incarnation.

1. Eternal Plans Depend on a Moment’s Decision
“Yahweh's own plan stands firm for ever, his heart's counsel from age to age,” we are assured by the Psalmist in Psalm 33:11. However firm and eternal God’s plans may be, he has allowed them to depend on the freedom of the creatures he has chosen to collaborate with him. In the Annunciation, heaven and earth hold their breath as Mary decides whether or not to assent to God’s plan of salvation.

2. Mary’s Perfect Response
Mary gives us a perfect example of how we are to respond to God’s revelation of his plan in our life. She is perfectly human, as shown in her initial reaction of fear. Having been reassured, she wishes to know more about God’s plan – how exactly it will come about, since she has vowed virginity. Finally, her last words are a perfect realization of who God is – the Lord – and who she is – God’s humble servant. She therefore recognizes his sovereignty in her life and lovingly submits to his plan.

3. Reality and Mystery
At the moment of Mary’s “yes” to God’s plan, the marvelous reality of the incarnation of the Son of God in a single cell in her womb occurs. Although this is perfectly real, it is no less a mystery. How awesome and multi-faceted a reality to contemplate: God’s love and humility shown in the Son’s disregarding all of the privileges of his divinity to become a creature, for the sake of saving humanity. He has loved me enough to come save me.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I contemplate you today coming down into the womb of Mary to save me. I can imagine Mary speaking to you, as she recognized your presence in her. I follow suit. I want to thank and praise you and marvel at what you have done out of love. I cannot begin to imagine the sacrifice that this must have been for you. Yet you did it thinking of me, of my eternal salvation.

Resolution: I will strive to see how Jesus, the perfect man, lived the virtue that I am cultivating in my spiritual life. This will make the attaining of that virtue more attractive, motivating me to acquire it.

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