Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14, 8:10; Hebrews 10:4-10; Luke 1:26-38
Last week we celebrated the Feast of St. Joseph and today, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, while next week is Holy Week–already! These Mass readings review the beginnings of Jesus’ time on earth just as we are about to celebrate the end of his earthly life.
This reminds me that the distinct mysteries we celebrate orbit around the great mystery of God’s search for us. God meets us in the familiar milieu of family crises, births, doubts and suspicions, betrayals–even death. Aren’t those experiences encapsulated in the lives of Joseph, Mary and Jesus?
Just before Lent we were reading at Vigils the story of David, echoing all of that. And his story impacts what I hear when the angel says of the child Mary could bear, The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob. Now I can hear the tragic probability in that forecast. What must Mary have felt to glimpse such a destiny weighing on her fragile, unborn Son?
In this context, isn’t Mary’s question to the point? How can this come about? She is not doubting what God can do; Mary is begging to understand how this conception can be life-giving and not another human casualty.
The Angel Gabriel gives the only answer possible: The Holy Spirit will come upon you…
The vicious circle of human futility is broken when Mary is released from her fear, to generate a spiral of ever-deepening possibility. Mary, the God-Bearer, also bears into history the life-giving Spirit, the very Love binding Father and Son, also binding Uncreated and created.
The same Spirit that brooded over the primal waters quickens the deepest potential of Mary as that Spirit will brood over the corpse of her Son in the tomb to quicken his resurrected life.
This is the same Spirit that her Son will send to enliven the embryonic Church gathered with Mary in the upper room and transform our repetitious, sad songs into a harmonious round. This is the Spirit who engenders hope amidst our failures and limits and fragility. This Spirit, who vivified the body of Christ in Mary’s womb, gathers us here as the Body of Christ to celebrate the Body of Christ at this altar.