The Fourth Sunday of Advent -- 2002-2003

The Annunciation to the Chosen Virgin Mary

December 22, 2002


Br. Anthony of Mary in the Wilderness
Benedictine Community of Saint Anthony
Stevensville, Montana

Text: The Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke 1:26-38

Blessed Robert Southwell was quoted --

"Spell Eva back and Ave shall you find,

The first began, the last reversed our harms;

An angel's witching words did Eva blind,

An angel's Ave disenchants the charms;

Death first by woman's weakness entered in,

In woman's virtue life doth now begin."

(The Virgin's Salutation)

The Blessed Virgin holds a unique place of honor among women, and we that know her, may come to shower our Christ-centered devotion to the Mother of the Church, who is also the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is a privilege to truly discover Jesus Christ through a true devotion to our Lady. It is in the story of the Gospel today that we come to discover how centered her life was upon Jesus and how we might also follow her example for Love of God.

Mary in this Gospel made the way for us to come to also adore Jesus, "...turning the key to admit Love from on high." (Dante, Purgatorio, Canto 10.)

My heart leaps for joy as we ponder this truth of the Annunciation....

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,

27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a little "insignificant town," (from the stand point of the Romans) at the cross roads of Roman travel and commerce.

The name, "Nazareth," may be meaningful as a reference to the "branch," referring to the Messianic Branch mentioned in the prophets Jeremiah 23:5 and Zechariah 3:8; 6:12. But, more intriguing is the root word, netzer, meaning, perhaps, "Nazerite" or "separated one," or "one separated."

To be "one separated" is to be "set apart" as holy unto the Lord.

In the context of this little town of Nazareth, a new beginning was taking place.

Something was being announced to a "chosen one," a "separated one," Mary, and the world is today by the Gospel being invited to listen carefully to the conversation and behold the manner of the coming of Immanuel.

The angel comes directly from the Throne of God.

There is no ambiguity in his message.

God has a plan from the very foundation of all things... and Mary, betrothed to Joseph, both of the house of David, is prepared to hear the Messenger, Gabriel, whose name means, "man of God."

He will announce the greatest Name ever when he addresses Mary.

28 And he came to her and said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!"

What a statement.

It is unique.

She is called by God, FULL of GRACE, because YHWH, the LORD, is with HER.

There is uniqueness here far beyond any other "full-ness" the Holy Scriptures speak of for human beings.

Mary is a specially Chosen One, a "separated one," who lives in Nazareth.

And, there will be THREE responses as Mary reflects on what has been recorded for our eyes and ears in this Gospel account.

29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.

First, she considers in her mind what is meant. She ponders these things in her heart.

She really did not know?

I believe she knew, because she was "troubled" that she was considered so highly by such a royal visitor. It was perfect humility coming from the depth of her Heart. Her Humility was not self-aware, so to speak. It was not centered upon self -- She was "troubled."

30 And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

32 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 father David,

33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end."

Oh, beloved, shouldn't our quest be that we might find a fraction of this "favor with God"? That JESUS might be born within us for others to see?

This is Mary's role first, to carry JESUS within her womb, and then, to carry him in her arms. As you and I follow her example of close ness to JESUS, we become bearers of Jesus to others -- much like St. Christopher, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Joseph and others so blessed.

The Child she bears, grows up and is the Son of the Most High. He will sit on David's Throne. He will reign forever over Jacob's House. There will be NO END to his Kingdom.

What a privilege it is for us to come to desire this kind of stability in God.

Do not our hearts cry out for this, as we see instability, around us in secular leadership, if one can even call it leadership? What does the world have to offer the Christian? When we consider this Gift of God through Mary -- the world has nothing to offer better than this Gift from God.

34 And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?"

Secondly, she shares what we need to hear.

Mary and Joseph were chosen for a special blessing.

Mary with Joseph wanted to remain pure and chaste for God's plan.

The Annunciation was also about Joseph's faithfulness.

She is betrothed to Joseph, whose name means, "he shall add." And, God shall add to Israel's House, to the whole world, a Savior, a King, a new Family, a Holy Family -- these all surpass is excellence all we know or can comprehend.

Yahweh shall add, because of Joseph's obedience and chastity, through Mary -- JESUS.

God shall add -- "Salvation of Yahweh" -- Yeshua.

God's plan is perfect and it becomes manifested to us through Mary's story and the chosen to the obedience of faith for her becoming the chosen vessel of God she is.

So, there is the means of this purity.

35 And 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 called holy, the Son of God.

36 And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.

37 For with God nothing will be impossible."

With God nothing is impossible.

With the Most High this Child will be called, "Holy," because he is Holy, the Son of God.

The Holy Spirit (mystery of the Incarnation) is present. When God is present and moves, God's purposes are accomplished.

But, Mary needed to say, "Yes."

Wonderful God who allows an answer that is free and from the heart of Mary!

Her answer was, "Yes."

May our answers to God always be like hers.

38 And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

The angel did not depart until Mary gave the answer.

Perhaps, we should ask ourselves --

When the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit call, will your answer be like that of Mary?

"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."

As we look at this spiritual issue for us perhaps we might pose a question -- Shall we have any other lover but God alone?

Deus et Sanctissima.

To order the weekly homily immediately, click here