19 March 2017

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1: 14).

     This week, the Church celebrates on 25 March the momentous event of the Incarnation of the Son of God, the solemnity of the Annunciation. The Archangel Gabriel did, indeed, come to bring good news announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary. God was asking her to become His own mother! In this particular event, we can see already the great humility that God, who is almighty and can create and generate with the help of no one else, will not come down from heaven unless Our Lady freely consents to His will first. God never forces His life upon anyone; instead, He freely invites us to “come and see” Him, but His offer is never compulsory because genuine love can never be forced (John 1:39).

     Fortunately for all of us who live after the Annunciation, the Blessed Virgin gave her “fiat,” her “yes,” in consenting to God’s plan for her and for us. Her response is also a prayer that we should readily have upon our own lips each day: “May it be done unto me according to Your Word” (Luke 1:38). Just as Mary deferred to God in what He was asking of her, so we defer to the Son of God who came down from heaven and took on our human nature to save us. As Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen would say, Jesus is the only Person who was born into this world with a specific mission to die.

     The Incarnation signals that our redemption was immediately at hand. Whereas God declared that a woman would crush the head of the ancient serpent (Satan) after the Fall, He waited for the fullness of time to bring His will into particular motion (see Genesis 3:15). God had already prepared the perfect vessel, or tabernacle as it were, for His Son beforehand when the Blessed Virgin Mary was herself conceived with no original sin. She did not possess the consequences of the Fall of Adam that we daily face because she experienced the Immaculate Conception (Mary’s conception in the womb of St. Anne with no original sin).

     We see, in fact, that Mary’s perfection in her human nature is a source of humility and charity on our behalf. Mary never stands aloof from us; she never thought that she was better than we are. She is very much immersed in our lives, and she knows all of our needs. The fact that Jesus Christ took His perfect human nature from His mother shows that God’s work is always on our behalf, just as Mary continues to work on our behalf to be united with her Son. Jesus, the eternal Son of God, came down from heaven to be the unique bridge between heaven and earth. We have complete access to the Father now because Jesus unites our life with His own divine life which He, in turn, shares with us at our baptism (Ephesians 2:18).   

     It is only appropriate that the Church should celebrate the Annunciation during Lent, therefore. This season is a time when we honestly look into our hearts and see where we have allowed the weeds of sin to take root within our own fallen nature. The Blessed Virgin and Jesus desire only one thing for us: to be holy just as Jesus is. We attain God’s very life in our own through trust and our union with Jesus Himself. God’s grace generated by Him then flows through the hands of His mother. Our weakness because of original sin and the history of our own personal sins we commit are occasions never to withdraw from God. Rather, our sins are the mirror held up to our heart and mind as those moments where we needed to trust God even more than we ever did. Instead of fleeing from Him, we approach God with the honesty of the prodigal son who returned to His father, not in slavish fear, but in humble trust that He will take care of us. We should see in our sins that without God, we can do nothing; turning away from Him achieves nothing good and lasting (see John 15: 5).

     With God, however, all new things are possible (Luke 1:37). When we sincerely desire to make a change for the better, we kneel before God with the admission that we are totally dependent upon Him to give us the grace, strength, fortitude, truth, and love that we need to continue forward each day. God is never half-hearted to a soul who wants to fly to Him. This Lent is a perfect time where we look to Jesus’ words, actions, life, and death, and we unite ourselves each day to Him asking Jesus to give us our “daily bread”: His friendship that connects us to His Sacred Heart beating for us today.  

     May you have a most blessed and holy week!

     Fr. Shawn William Cutler

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