The Annunciation of the Lord is the Christian celebration of the announcement of the incarnation of Jesus Christ by the Angel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Church celebrates this feast every 25th day of March, which is nine months before Christmas.
The bible does not give us much information about the early life of the Blessed Virgin Mary before the annunciation.
The gospel helps us to catch a glimpse of what truly happened in the life of this humble woman. This may be a long detailed homily, so take your time and read through it.
There are ten important lessons we can grasp from the Blessed Virgin Mary through this encounter with the angel. But before that, let us take time and assimilate some truths revealed in today’s annunciation of the Lord.
The Angel Gabriel was Sent By God.
When we read the gospel, this is the first thing that may strike our curiosity. God sends the angel to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The angel did not come on his own. He was sent by the Almighty God.
First of all, this is a great honour from God to this woman. This is one of the reasons we honour her. We honour her because God honoured her first and chose her to be the mother of His son.
If God sees how important this woman is to Him, what is blinding some eyes to see the importance of this woman in the salvific race of man?
Secondly, every word uttered by the Angel Gabriel is not the angel’s word but God’s word. The angel only came to deliver a message from God.
This word that was uttered by the Angel Gabriel forms part of the rosary prayer. So, when we recite the Holy Rosary, we are not reciting empty words as many purported, we are reciting sacred words.
This is why the rosary is very powerful. The rosary prayer does not just come from the angel’s message, it comes from God.
Through the annunciation of the Lord, we get a glimpse of where the Blessed Virgin Mary comes from. The reading says that in the sixth month, God sends the angel Gabriel to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, betrothed to Joseph and of the house of David and the virgin’s name was Mary.
This reveals many things about the Blessed Virgin Mary.
1. It gives us an idea that Mary also dwells in the city of Nazareth.
2.Like Joseph, She is also of the house of David. The angel once addressed Joseph as the son of David (Matthew 1;20).
3. She was betrothed to Joseph and not engaged as many interpret today. In the Jewish custom, Betrothal is the first step in their marriage process. When someone is betrothed to a man, she is seen as legally married to her but won’t live with the man yet.
She continues to live with the family for at least one year until the second step when the husband will take his wife home to begin their normal married life.
So, According to the Jewish custom, there will be no sexual relations until the second stage. So it was during this stage that Joseph finds out that Mary was pregnant. That is why the gospel of Matthew says “that before they come to live together, she was found to be with a child through the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18).
This lends credence to the virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
4.Nazareth was a very small and unknown area. It is not even among the prominent towns and very far from the religious centre of the Jewish temple. No prophecy in the Old testament ever mentioned Nazareth.
It was a lowly city, and yet out of nowhere, God chooses a woman from this city to become the mother of His son. Hence this tells us that God can choose anyone even those you think are nothing.
Full of Grace.
When the Angel appeared, the angel Gabriel greeted Mary as this “Hail full of grace”. Some translations said, “rejoice O highly favoured one”. In Greek, the angel said Χαῖρε κεχαριτωμένη (Chaire kecharitōmenē) meaning: greetings, Full of Grace or Greetings, Favoured with abundant grace.
Hence, this is not just an ordinary greeting but like a title used by the angel to address this woman. It is like a name for the Virgin Mary. Here indicates that everything about her is grace.
There is no one again in the bible addressed with this title, which explains what a great privilege she received from God. So if her grace is abundant or full, then there is no space for sin. Hence this also lends credence to her immaculate conception.
God did not just choose her, God prepared her to be the tabernacle to carry the son of God. The womb that will bear God should not be conceived in sin for God has no relation to sin.
It is through this womb prepared by God, That Jesus derives His flesh and blood. So when you shout the blood of Jesus, do not forget the source.
After these theological interpretations, let us now step by step enumerate the top ten lessons we can learn from the Blessed Virgin Mary through the annunciation.
1. Attention to God’s Word.
Immediately the Blessed Virgin Mary sees the angel, she pays deep attention to the word that he utters. She focuses all her mind, spirit, body and soul to understand what the angel is saying.
This is why she is seeking to understand. Remember that she can decide to pay deaf attention to the message and occupy herself with some other activities.
Hence through the annunciation of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary teaches us to focus deeply on the word of God. Once God speaks to us through the word, we have to pay attention.
Let us avoid distractions and let go of whatever that may occupy our mind. The word of God needs our attention. Do not become busy with social media when God is talking to you. Do not do as if the word of that day does not concern you.
We need to give God our wholehearted attention whenever He speaks to us. When you attend your liturgical activities, keep silent and allow God to speak to your soul first.
2. Willingness to Accept Whatever God says.
Like Joseph, her husband, the Blessed Virgin Mary showed her willingness to accept whatever God says. Once God has said, for them, there is no going back. Therefore when we hear the word of God we have to open our hearts to the word and accept it like the holy family. If God tells you to forgive, please forgive.
If God asks that we come to Him in prayer, please let us not become tired. Hence, if God needs you to help someone, do not say no. If God demands that you talk to someone or render help to Him, never go back.
When God asks that you are the one to bring peace to your family, do not reject it. When He sends you to a place to work, accept it with an open heart. Let us always willingly accept whatever God says that we should do.
3. Trust in God.
The Annunciation of the Lord shows Mary’s trust in God. She doesn’t know how the future might be. She does not know what may befall her through the destiny she has chosen, but yet she accepted the angel’s message. Hence, once it is coming from God, there is no reason to fear.
Like the Blessed Virgin Mary, let us trust God and whatever He asks us to do for Him. Trust Him even when things are not going well in your life. God knows what He is doing. You may not understand the process, but keep your trust in God firm.
4. The Will of God Supersedes Our will.
Do you think with me that there are things that the Blessed Virgin Mary would have done in life too? Mary may have other vocations she may like to pursue in life, but she places the will of God above her own will.
What God wants is what should be our priority and not what we want. When what we want, and what God wants clashes, what God wants should take precedence.
5. Humility Matters.
Despite her exalted position to become the mother of the long-expected messiah, she does not boast. She remained humble to the core.
Today, when only a small position is given to us, we act as if we are the owner of the world.
If politicians should know how little their positions appear before God, they should thread with caution. Whatever we have is given to us by God. We should not boast as if we can now do anything we want. Every earthly position has an expiring date.
6. Remain in Faith.
Through the annunciation of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary teaches us what it means to have faith in God. She believed that what the angel said is true. So, faith is the belief that whatever God says is true and demands our acceptance and obedience. We believe in something because we feel that what we believe is true.
Secondly, faith is believing that what God says will surely come to pass. The angel told her that the power of the Most High will overshadow her. She believed this. She knows that whatever God says will one day come to fulfillment and God did not disappoint.
Thirdly, faith is always a belief in the future, even though what is believed is yet to come to pass. The Blessed Virgin Mary also teaches us today about this aspect of faith. She only believed in the promises which are still going to happen in the future.
Fourthly faith does not go with doubt. Faith is a lack of doubt. Hence the Blessed Virgin Mary did not doubt the message of the angel. There is a difference between her response and that of Zechariah. You can read my post on that here. So let us learn through her how to be faithful to God.
7. Total dependence on God.
Mary’s response to the angel showed not only full acceptance but total dependence on the word of God. We may present it like this “Whenever she may feel like losing hope, she will remember what God says”.
She said, “let it be done to me according to your word”. Hence what God says is her guide. She depends on this promise and nothing more.
Therefore, despite however we are or what we are, let us never neglect God.
Let us also depend on Him for everything that we do. Even when things seem not to work in your life, do remember that God’s presence is still with you. Always look upon the Lord.
8. Willingness to Obey God at all cost.
There are times we do present ourselves as those who love God, but when trials and temptations come, we lose faith and fall.
Mary’s yes to the angel is a sign that she has made up her mind to obey God at all cost. She made up her mind to face anything that will come to Her to please God. Can we be willing to obey God even in hunger, temptation, trials and difficulties?
9. Our yes to God.
Whenever we are presented with a request, a command or a direction, two things are expected of us. It is either to say yes or no. The answer we give influences our follow up actions and also the consequences and results that follow the action.
When Mary said yes to the angel’s message, her fiat set on course the salvific history of the human race. What would have happened if she says No? Will God still send His son? Will God prepare another woman? What also would have happened to her? Maybe she will face the consequences of the disobedience just like Eve?
Mary’s yes to God during the annunciation of the Lord brought salvation to humanity. Every day we are presented with God’s commands, directions and messages. Do we say yes to them or no? When we hear the word of God every day, do we say yes to it or no?
Our yes or no also has followed up consequences. Our yes to God is simply for our good. Never despise the Word of God.
Mary’s yes to God brought salvation to humanity. Our yes to God’s directions cannot but bring us breakthrough and eternal salvation. Read the Word of God and live by it.
10. Do Not Fear.
I was deeply touched by the above word from the Angel to Mary during the annunciation of the Lord. Who knows how Our Mother Mary felt seeing an Angel of God face to face, how troubled she became hearing the message of the Angel?
She asked how can this be? She didn’t doubt but she might be considering the depths of this message, but the Angel followed up with an encouraging word “Do not fear Mary ” the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
In difficult circumstances and impossible cases, the Doctor of impossibilities ( Holy Spirit of God ) knows what to do.
This is a message for the world, a message for all. Never live in fear even in the presence of any impossible situation. What our Blessed Mother Mary did was to accept and believe in the message of the Angel. The power of the Most High does the rest.
We have God who is so loving and merciful. He alone is Omnipotent and Almighty. Let us turn from our evil ways and seek Him with all our hearts.
Let us continually invoke the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Our function is to accept God like Mary, work according to His inspirations and believe that He can do everything.
Hence. our function is to pray, believe and work. The power of the Most High will always do the rest. So, remain strong, accept the word and Live for God. God does not forsake His own.
May God bless you dearest and give us the grace to overcome all your challenges today Amen
Happy Annunciation Day