Friday, 25 March 2022 : Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, marking the moment when the Archangel Gabriel came to the little town of Nazareth before Mary, the one God had chosen to be the bearer of His Messiah, and revealed to her the Good News that all of us mankind had awaited for a very long time. The word Annunciation itself has the same meaning as the word ‘announce’ as the Good News was announced and revealed in this world at long last, that God’s salvation was finally at hand.

The Lord has promised His salvation to all of us from the very beginning of time. In our first reading today, when we heard the account from the Book of the prophet Isaiah regarding the sign from God which Isaiah prophesied would come despite the lack of faith from the king, as when Isaiah told king Ahaz of Judah to ask for a sign from God, he refused to do so, and the prophet chastised the king for his refusal as that refusal was made not so much so by humility but rather by his lack of faith and trust in the Lord. Ahaz was one of the kings of Judah who was considered to be one of the unfaithful and wicked kings, whose actions further misled the people away from God.

Isaiah mentioned how God would show His sign in due time to all the people, that a woman would bear a Child, and that woman is a Virgin, who bears the Child with a most peculiar name, that is Emmanuel, or God-is-with-us. That was in fact an early revelation of what God would do for His people, that He Himself would come upon us through the Virgin, the Woman whom He had in fact spoken about right from the beginning of time, when mankind first fell into sin. In the Book of Genesis, we heard of how Adam and Eve, our first ancestors sinned against God, and how they ate of the forbidden tree’s fruits, and Satan deceived Eve in order to do that.

God sent Adam and Eve to wander on earth, into this world to endure the sufferings as the just consequences of our sins. However, at the same time, He still reassured us all of His love, and while we have to suffer the consequences of those disobedience and wickedness we had committed, but He still loved us no matter what, and He proclaimed before Satan, Adam and Eve, that while Satan might strike at the children of man, implying how he would come to drag more and more of the children of man into sin and therefore into damnation, but through the Woman He spoke of, God reassured and promised us all of the deliverance that would come, and that Saviour would crush the head of Satan.

Thus, the words of the prophet Isaiah was in fact yet another reassurance from God of the truth behind all that He would do for the sake of His people. God would come Himself upon us, by willingly taking up on our human existence and flesh, becoming incarnate through Mary, His mother, that He became tangible and approachable to us, conceived by the Holy Spirit and then born into this world, the Saviour Who had been long awaited for by the whole world. He is Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, the Son of God Most High and the Son of Man. Mary’s acceptance of her role in the bringing forth of God’s salvation into this world made all these possible.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard in our Gospel passage today, Mary had listened to the words of the Archangel Gabriel, revealing to her how she was to become the Mother of the Son of God Most High, and her acceptance of the role that the Lord had entrusted to her, sealed her role in the history of our salvation. That is why the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord is exactly nine months before Christmas, as it was at the very moment that Mary answered the Archangel Gabriel with total submission to the will of God, ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said,’ that by the power of the Holy Spirit, Our Lord was conceived in the womb of Mary, the Virgin who was to bear a Child, the Saviour of the world.

Mary’s obedience to the Lord and her total commitment to Him marks her as the New Eve as opposed to the first and old Eve of the Book of Genesis. While the old Eve disobeyed the Lord and gave in to her desires and listened to the lies of Satan tempting her with the allures of wisdom and knowledge, Mary as the New Eve remained faithful to the Lord and committed herself to Him, despite all the challenges and trials she might have to face for the path that she was led into. As an unmarried woman, to have a Child outside the bond of marriage it was very risky for her as she could have been stoned to death for her supposed adultery, and naturally Mary must have some hesitation in her heart, knowing all that. But she trusted wholeheartedly in the Lord and gave herself to what the Lord entrusted her with.

Mary has indeed been specially prepared by the Lord as we all know, conceived immaculate as the Immaculate Conception, set aside to be the worthy vessel to bear the Lord, as she is not just the New Eve but also the Ark of the New Covenant, the Covenant to be made and established by Jesus, her Son, Who resided in her womb for nine months. However, although she was made immaculate and free from the taint of original sin, to prepare her for her role, this did not strip from her the free will to choose. She chose consciously to follow God, to obey Him and to listen to Him instead of following the path of the evil one.

And that is not all, brothers and sisters in Christ. Just as we heard from our second reading passage today, from the Epistle to the Hebrews, the author of that Epistle spoke of the worthy offering offered to the Lord, and highlighted how the offerings of blood and animals of old cannot fully satisfy these offerings and requirements to the Lord. But the perfect and most worthy offering has then been made by none other than Christ Himself, the perfect offering of His own Most Precious Body and Blood, offered willingly and out of perfect and total obedience to the will of God, His heavenly Father.

In that way, Christ has become the New Adam much as His mother Mary is the New Eve. As the old Adam disobeyed the Lord and refused to follow His commands, and instead listened to the lies of Satan to satisfy his own desires and in seeking worldly achievements, thus Christ has rebuked and rejected Satan, showing us that we can break free from the power and domination of evil, from his lies and falsehoods, from all of his temptations and the pressures that he had placed on us in trying to mislead us and to distract us to fall into the path of sin. And not only that, but Christ also showed His perfect obedience to the will of His Father as a model for us all to follow.

Today, as we celebrate this great Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, all of us are reminded of the assurances that God has given to us all these time, all that He had done for our sake and everything He has promised to us. If we are faithful to Him, we truly have nothing to fear. For He has shown us the path forward to eternal life, true happiness and joy with Him. Unfortunately, more often than not it is we who have faltered, stubbornly refusing to follow the Lord and all that He has shown us. The Lord has always patiently led us to Himself, and He wants us to know that all of us are beloved to Him, and He loves us all dearly.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all remind ourselves today not to succumb to the temptations to sin, but instead be inspired by Mary, the Mother of Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, and Our Lord Himself, who as the New Eve and New Adam respectively have shown us all the path out of the darkness of sin and evil, into the light of righteousness and faith. They have shown us that sin and death do not have the final say or power over us, as long as we have faith in God, walk in His path and devote ourselves wholeheartedly to Him.

The question is, are we all willing to walk down this path that God has shown us? Are we willing to walk down the path with God Who has always been with us, reassured us again and again, and Who has come down into our midst, to live with us and to be Emmanuel, God Who is with us, tangible and approachable? He has shown us all His light, the path and hope amidst the darkness of this world. Are we all willing to follow Him? Or are we still stuck in living in the darkness of this world and in following the temptations and pressures to disobey Him and to sin?

On this great Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord therefore, let us all reflect on these and discern carefully our path forward in life. Let us all follow the obedience showed by Mary, the Mother of God as she obeyed the will of God so perfectly, entrusting herself to the care of her Lord, and followed Him in all things. And let us all also follow the example of her Son, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in His faith and total obedience to the will of His heavenly Father. May all of us draw ever closer to God and may He strengthen us all to live ever more worthily in His presence, now and always. Amen.

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