The child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

We celebrate today the solemn feast of the Annunciation. “Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” said the old missal. That was correct, in a way, for the angel came to announce glad tidings to Mary. “Annunciation of the Lord,” says the new missal. Yes, this is the day that the good news is announced that she will become the Mother of Jesus. It is Jesus who is announced. He will be “God-with-us” (1st reading), who comes to do God’s will by being with us and saving us (2nd reading). It’s Jesus’ day, but it’s also Mary’s day. With the same disposition to serve God and people as Jesus had, she says, I am fully ready to serve – “I am the handmaid of the Lord.” May these be our words too.

1 Reading Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10
The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary people,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us!”

Responsorial Psalm 40:7-8A, 8B-9, 10, 11
R. (8a and 9a) Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Your justice I kept not hid within my heart;
your faithfulness and your salvation I have spoken of;
I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth
in the vast assembly.
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

2 Reading Hebrews 10:4-10
Brothers and sisters:
It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats
take away sins.
For this reason, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.
Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,
behold, I come to do your will, O God.'”

First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings,
holocausts and sin offerings,
you neither desired nor delighted in.”
These are offered according to the law.
Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.”
He takes away the first to establish the second.
By this “will,” we have been consecrated
through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Alleluia John 1:14AB
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Word of God became flesh and made his dwelling among us;
and we saw his glory.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Luke 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favour with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“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 called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

The scene of the Annunciation with its key figures—Angel Gabriel and Mary—is perhaps one of the most depicted Biblical events in art. But if I had artistic talent, I would love to depict the scene with Mary alone, focusing on the simple but profound final statement of the event in Luke: “And the angel left her.”
Gabriel came to her with the most momentous of tasks and waited for her consent. Mary was troubled at heart and had a few doubts. Gabriel offered clarifications. Mary still did not understand what it all entailed, but she surrendered herself totally to God’s plan. But the moment Mary said her “yes,” the angel left her. There would be no more annunciations or manifest interventions from heaven. No angel would visit her again. There would be no miraculous rescue when Herod threatened to kill the child. No heavenly aid would come to help her find the child Jesus lost in the Temple. After the Annunciation, Mary would have to walk her path and live out her yes in the dark light of faith. To her credit, she did it to perfection. Blessed is she among all women and men who have walked and will walk the face of the earth.

“Here I am to do your will,” says Jesus. “Here I am as the handmaid of the Lord,” says Mary. May these be our words too. They are beautiful, but they are not easy. May God be our strength, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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