Article: The Annunciation - A theological love letter
Today the Church celebrates the most blessed and solemn feast of the Annunciation of the Lord. This is if you ask me one of the most joyful feast of the entire Ecclesiastical year.
"And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin' s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her." [Luke 1:26-38]
Thousands of books have been written regarding the Feast of the Annunciation. Today we will consider the fundamentals of the theological components that can be found in St. Luke's Gospel. The first will be the obvious aspects of Mariology present which are directly tied to the second topic which will be a brief look at the Christology on display, and finally, the Ecclesiology which can be seen in Mary’s response to Saint Gabriel. We will examine these topics briefly.
Much of the Church's teachings of the Blessed Virgin can be found in the words, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee” In the next section of St. Luke Elizabeth refers to Mary as “blessed among women” (Luke 1:42). It is clear, based on the teachings of the Bible, that Mary enjoys a special place in the order of creation and God’s plan. The Church defines Mary’s status as full of grace through the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. At her conception, Mary already shared in the salvific and sanctifying grace of her Son. As the Teotokos she is blessed, because she was preserved from original sin and its effects for her entire life. As the Godbearer she is the chosen one and the portal to the world for God’s desire for the salvation of all of mankind. At the Annunciation Mary is already full of God’s grace, which is why she is addressed in this manner. Mary has already been saved by her Son through the profound glories and grace given to her by the Holy Trinity.
The Annunciation is the announcement that Christ is to come to His people and God will dwell among us, that this humble girl will bear the Infinite one, the One that the entire world cannot contain. Mary is not only “full of grace” because of her Immaculate Conception, but also because she will bear the fullness of grace who is Jesus Christ in her womb. Mary is to be the Mother of God, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. In her fiat Mary reverses and repairs the disobedience of Eve and agrees to submit and follow God’s desire. Mary can only be understood in the light of Christ. By God’s election, she will give the Son of God to humanity to so that He can unite His Divine nature to a human nature. The Annunciation is the announcement of the God-man entering into history for the salvation of his people.
By her fiat at the Annunciation, Mary shows perfect faith in God and perfect obediance to Him, she is the role model for us all and the mould we have have to shape our lives after. So too does the Church turn to her Saviour, Jesus Christ, in complete faith and dependence on Him. The Church looks to Mary for a deeper understanding of its role in the world and her response in the Annunciation is one of the Church’s starting points for reflection. Mary is the role-model for the upbringing of children and raising them to a life in Christ and she is the figure of the Church. It is through her role as the mother of God that she becomes the mother of the Church. Her spiritual motherhood is transformed and she is united to her Son’s mission of bringing all peoples to the Father as adopted children.
The Church is the Body of Christ, which means that Mary’s work and submission to the mission of her Son is still ongoing. Since the Church is where Christ’s is, she too is present in her intimate unity with the Most Holy Trinity.
The Annunciation begins to salvific work God has for His people in announcing the coming of the God-man. Mariology begins to take shape and dogmas such as the Immaculate Conception guided by tradition are understood through the fullness of Christ’s grace which dwells in Mary from her conception. God’s desire to be born into this world and take flesh, which will be united to His Divinity, is demonstrated. Mary’s faith at the Annunciation and her obedience and love for God are the guides for the Church’s teaching and the Christian life. Mariology, Christology, and Ecclesiology are all joined through the love and obedience of the Annunciation. As we celebrate this solemnity during the season of Easter, let us grow in a deeper understanding of Christ and His Mother, as we continue our own journey to join the Most Holy Trinity and find our salvation.