Today is the feast of the Annunciation. It is a most joyous day in many parts of the world. In England and other English speaking countries, it was once known as “Lady Day.” In Greece, the feast was chosen in 1821 to begin the fight for Greek independence. More examples could be culled from many different cultures and nations. Yet the importance of the Annunciation does not lie so much in how we celebrate as in what it means to us and what it has meant for countless Christians for many centuries.
The Archangel Gabriel was sent from God to a humble village in Galilee called Nazareth. Note that God did not send Gabriel to a large city like Jerusalem or Jericho, but to a place that was extremely insignificant. If one reads church history, one will notice that God does not choose humble places by accident. For example, Fatima, Lourdes, and La Salette were all insignificant places in their respective countries. Their reputations were similar to Nazareth’s. Yet God chose them so that Mary could appear and give her messages to the world. As we shall see, though, humble places are not the only way in which God works.
Gabriel appeared to a virgin named Mary, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph. Having gone to this tiny village of Nazareth, we now enter a small house in which there lives a young girl named Mary. Outside of the apocryphal gospels, we do not know anything about the Virgin Mary. What we do know, however, is that she was betrothed to St. Joseph and that she was probably very young when the betrothal took place. At around this time in Jewish history, young girls were married off at the age of 13. The same thing probably happened to Mary.
Yet Mary was not any young girl living in a small town. She had been uniquely chosen from all eternity to be an instrument through which God would save the world. What Eve had done by getting Adam to eat of the apple, Mary would undo by her obedience to what the Angel told her. It was she who would trample on the serpent’s head.
Gabriel appeared to Our Lady as a young man. While artists like to portray him having great pinions, I would like to believe that he appeared in this way. If he had appeared with wings and a sword, Mary might have been more frightened. Alas, this is something which the Bible does not tell us.
Of course, we know what happens after. Our Lady says “yes” to the angel’s message and, thereby, becomes the Mother of God. By that yes, however, she became much more. By bearing Our Lord in her womb, Our Lady became much more than any other woman before or since. She was the woman that God called “mother” and, at the foot of the Cross, she became our mother. Whether we like to hear it or not, Mary is our mother and she is always there for us in whatever situation we find ourselves.
Our Lady is not only our mother, but our supreme intercessor before the throne of God. Like a good mother, she is always to plead for us with her Son. At the marriage of Cana, Our Lord performed His first miracle at Our Lady’s prompting. Who are we to say that He does not perform other countless miracles in our own day through her intercession?
Like a good mother, Our Lady has appeared to her servants countless times since her Assumption. Every time that she has appeared, she has given a message that has been of universal importance for the world. Whether she gave a message of comfort to Juan Dieg at Guadalupe or a peace plan from heaven at Fatima, Our Lady has always had our best interests in mind. Not only this, but her interests are those of her Son. Since she is so united with Our Lord, those interests cannot be otherwise.
On this feast day of the Annunciation, let us meditate on this most beautiful mystery and thank Our Lady for being our mother.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!
St. Joseph, pray for us!