The church tries to present the mysteries of faith as concretely as possible, because we find the mysteries of God hard to understand and need all the help we can get. So, the church celebrates the mysteries of Jesus throughout the year at times that may help us understand them.
Today is the Solemnity of the Incarnation of the Lord, when we celebrate the beginning of Jesus’ life in the womb of Mary. The Angel Gabriel came to Nazareth and invited Mary to become the mother of Jesus, who would “save his people from their sins.”
“Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word,” Mary answered.
Usually it’s celebrated on March 25th, 9 months from Christmas, December 25th, the traditional date of Jesus’ birth. Some old church calendars saw this day also as the day on which Jesus was crucified. Because it fell in Easter week, we postpone the celebration to this week.
On this side of the world it’s spring and the natural world is coming to life. Its deepest life comes about through the presence, the birth, the life of Jesus Christ. Hidden in the womb or dying on the cross, Jesus brings life and spring is earth’s reminder of new life in God.
“May we become more like Jesus Christ, whom we acknowledge as our redeemer,” we say in our prayer for this feast. He is hidden in us as he was in Mary; he grows and matures in us, as he did in her.
We can’t celebrate this feast without thinking of that great woman of faith who believed in the angel’s message. “And the angel left her,” the story of the Annunciation concludes. The angel spoke, then was gone. Even when there was no angel to speak to and few further signs, Mary continued to believe.
Her faith was great; like her we keep in mind the angel’s words as if spoken to us:
Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with you.