Holy Spirit and Fire

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Reflection on the Solemnity of the Annunciation

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Solemnity of the Annunciation

This Wednesday, March 25, the Church celebrates the Annunciation--when the Archangel Gabriel visited Mary with the news that she would be the Mother of God. With her consent at that moment, God became man by the power of the Holy Spirit and all of heaven rejoiced.
 
This was the moment of the Incarnation, the moment in time God chose to begin the work of our redemption. It is nine months before Christmas, the birth of Jesus. Now with the world in crisis and disorder, the joy of Christmas seems very distant.
 
So it is all the more fitting that we celebrate the Annunciation, which is the more hidden preview of what was to come when Jesus was born. When we look out at the world in these distressing days, we have to look a little harder to see that there are still blessings. Mary herself found it difficult to grasp what was being asked of her, but her steadfast faith led her to trust God’s messenger and say the “yes” that allowed God to use her as His son’s closest human collaborator in saving the world.
 
If we meet these present circumstances with steadfast faith, we will know and appreciate that God has not abandoned us and is still visiting us with His love. Even though access to the sacraments and the life of the Church may be more difficult, we can be like the Blessed Mother and continue to offer our hearts--the deepest part of ourselves where all our deepest longings reside--as an offering to the Father. The “yes” that Mary offered at the Annunciation would continue to be spoken all the way to the foot of the cross. And when three days had passed, and the suffering was over, there was the restoration of joy. The same will be true for us.
 
It will be so important, in these times, to cling with all our love to the Blessed Mother. Our faith says very beautifully that Mary is the embodiment of the Church. Mary wants for us what the Church wants for us, in a maternal way. Theologians have put it this way: “Everything that can be said of Mary, can be said of the Church”. Therefore, at a time like this when we are impeded in our ability to reach out to the Church as our mother, can we reach even more frequently for our rosary beads? Can we look at a favorite image of Our Lady, and pray with all our hearts? Can we pray to Our Lady under the traditional-but-often-forgotten title of “Health of the Sick”?
 
We will experience deprivation in any number of ways: of physical comforts and conveniences, of social connection, even of physical health. So let’s place ourselves in the humble home of Mary in Nazareth, and join her who already had nothing, because she was ready to offer her whole being. If we can join her, in her nothingness, we will receive what she received: EVERYTHING. For God himself came to her in that poverty of spirit, and she as a creature received the Creator. When we have God Himself, nothing can disturb us—no social distance, no virus, not even the powers of darkness.
 
Blessed be God and blessed be the Name of Mary, Virgin and Mother!
 
Yours in Christ,
Father Ben Little
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