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Fourth Sunday of Advent- The Annuciation

Posted: 19 Dec 2018

The Angel Gabriel said to Mary in greeting; Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women. 

Advent Antiphon 

 

Behold, the virgin, as was said of old, 

Has conceived in her womb 

And has brought forth God as a man, 

Yet she remains a virgin. 

Being reconciled to God through her, 

Let us poor sinners sing her praises, 

For she is truly the Theotokos. 

Byzantine Matins for the Nativity

During this blessed season, the liturgical readings never cease to remind us that Advent and Christmas are all about the mystery of the Incarnation- a mystery that begins when Mary, after being greeted by Gabriel and left dumb-founded by his message, utters her fiat in complete submission to the plan of God. 

Mary, of course, already knew the words of the prophet Isaiah: “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon hi shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonderful-Counsellor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” What she never know, until that point in history, is that she was eternally destined to bear Emmanuel, the father’s only Son. As one of the lovely antiphons of Advent tells us, “This is the Good News the prophet foretold: The Saviour will be born of the Virgin Mary.” 

Throughout the whole of Advent, the icon of the Annunciation lies next to the Lectionary in our Chapel. Several times a day, as we enter or leave the oratory, we offer is a profound homage and kiss it reverently. During the liturgy, candles are lit next to the icon and incense is offered. As we gaze upon the icon, we see Mary in deep prayer. Suddenly, she is visited by Gabriel, and in her profound humility she seems bewildered by his greeting. If Mary is startled by the vision of the angel, she is more startled by his message: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.” 

“How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” we can hear Mary asking the angel. She had promised God to remain a virgin; was God asking her to do otherwise? Gabriel answered Mary quickly, reassuring her that the gift of her virginity would remain untarnished: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most high will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” 

Overwhelmed, Mary, a woman of deep faith, utters her fiat: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. may it be done to me according to your word.” Her “yes”, spoken softly in a humble home in the village of Nazareth, changed the course of history. Through her simple utterance, God’s plans for the world begin to unfold, and the Son of God descends into the womb of Mary, uniting heaven and earth. At that precise moment, the Word is made flesh and dwells among us”. “Ecce iam venit, plenitudp temporis, in quo misit Deus filium suum in terras.”

Br. Victor-Antoine D’Avila-Latourette 
“Monastry Journey to Christmas” 
Copyright 2011 
Liguori Publications 
Liguori, Missouri 63057

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