Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Lectionary: 545

By this "will," we have been consecrated through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Nine months before Christmas, although we find ourselves in the penitential season of Lent, we must stop everything and celebrate the conception of Jesus Christ, when the Virgin welcomed the Word of God. The first to hear the Gospel, she conceived him in her mind even as she conceived him in her body. She is not the Redeemer but we could not be redeemed without her pure act of generosity. 

The Church was racked with controversies during its earliest centuries. Opinions were rife about Jesus Christ. Who was he? Was he only a man? Was he a spirit who looked like a man? When he died on the cross did he really die, or was he only making it look like a death to inspire our imitation? Was he the son of God as we are all sons and daughters of God, or something else? 

Everybody had an opinion and most of them were wrong. It's true. During the middle of the fourth century most Christians -- including the Emperor Constantine and his powerful government -- believed a heretical doctrine about Jesus. They insisted that Jesus was a demigod, basically a creature placed in charge of the rest of creation and salvation. It was his job to inspire people to godlike behavior. They should earn their salvation by doing good and avoiding evil. 

Fortunately, through the very obvious influence of the Holy Spirit, the leading bishops of the church knew we cannot save ourselves no matter how well-intentioned we might be. Our salvation must penetrate to the core of our being, beyond the range of our thoughts, attitudes and intentions. We must belong to Christ not by our will but by our baptism. This cannot happen if the Son of God is not God, or if he is not fully human. If we are to be enfleshed into the flesh of Jesus he must have human flesh like our own. We must be baptized into his flesh; we must eat his flesh and drink his blood. 

The bishops at Nicea condemned the heresy known as Arianism, and several of its variants. They expressed our beliefs in the Nicene Creed and used all of their political, social and religious influence to bring the Church back to the true faith. 

That's why, in the middle of Lent, we must stop everything and celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. We remember 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....

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.