The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary;Usually, the commemoration of the Annunciation of the Lord is celebrated by the Catholic Church on March 25 — exactly nine months before the nativity of the Lord, in December. This year, owing to Good Friday falling on that particularly important date, the Annunciation’s remembrance was transferred to April 4 (the first day after the Octave of Easter).
And she conceived by the Holy Spirit …
Why do we bother? Why not simply push ahead with the calendar rather than stalling things to insistently recall this singular moment — one that many non-Catholic Christians barely consider, except, perhaps, in the run up to Christmas?
Because this single moment contains within it the first and foremost lesson of Christianity — the one around which every other lesson whirls: Our salvation hinges upon our consent to being saved, and it is a consent that must be given over and over again. Just as God’s own intention — his Word of assent — was necessary for the creation and sustained expansion of the universe, so was Mary’s “yes” necessary to the its salvation.
God said, “Let there be …,” and from that was brought forth light. At the Annunciation it is the created creature who says the Word. “Yes,” Mary said, “let it be …,” and from that was brought forth the light of the world.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to thy word.
“Yes”; “Let it be” — these are the words that permit life rather than refuse it. Creation and sustenance are born of positive assent, affirmation.
“God created us without us, but he will not save us without us,” wrote Augustine in one of his sermons, and the Annunciation demonstrates it.
The truth is, while today we remember the Annunciation in a special way, the Church puts this great truth and ever-instructive mystery before us constantly by recommending the daily recitation of the Angelus, whose words continually bring us back to the beginning, that first lesson, for our continued instruction — the reminder that our every yes keeps us on a God-directed path. And then it does something else. It plops us right into a mystery that is imponderable and yet ever-pleasant to dwell upon:
And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us.
To remember the incarnation, every day, is to also remember the passion and death of Christ Jesus, every day; which is also to remember that there is nothing we suffer in life that God himself did not consent to suffer, as well, out of sheer love for us, in his “mad eros of the cross.” It is, finally, to remember that this love, this consent, this yes, has conquered all, which means we are — with every surrender, every yes of our own — made continually free, in Christ.