Readings and Reflection for March 25 (Friday in the Third Week of Lent, Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord)

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A Delightful Lenten Journey

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A life-giving departure

In Book IV of The Confessions, Augustine uses a beautiful image to talk about the departure of the word. When we utter a sentence, it is not complete until one word passes away so that others may follow it (4.10.15). One word needs to depart after another to give life to the whole sentence. And Augustine continues, God “departed from our eyes, so that we might return into our hearts and find him there. He departed, but lo, he is here. He would not stay long with us, and yet he does not leave us. He departed from here, whence he has never departed, for ‘the world was made by him’ and ‘he was in the world’” (4.12.19).

From word of mouth to the word made flesh

The end of today’s Gospel tells us that the angel, God’s messenger, departs from Mary. This departure doesn’t mean abandonment. Quite the contrary, it allows the Annunciation to be realized. The angel needs to depart in order to give way to the Holy Spirit. The word of mouth needs to be replaced by the word made flesh. Mary needs to stop to see the divine presence in order to live it in the depths of her being. From now on, the creative word, the “let there be…” takes root in the womb of Mary. The word of God that brought about the whole creation finds its dwelling in a human body through a word of agreement: “May it be done to me according to your word.”

From my own plan to God’s plan for me

For some reason, when I was younger, I thought that Mary was first conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and then she was betrothed to Joseph in order to found a human family for Jesus. But today’s Gospel tells us a totally different story. Mary was already Joseph’s fiancée before the Annunciation. God relies on Mary and Joseph’s engagement to realize his plan of salvation. He does not establish another kind of relationship but deepens the one that Mary and Joseph already had to give it a salvific meaning. God joins human beings in their humanity to accomplish his desire for them. He empties himself in order to be filled by the presence of his children.

From the Most High to the most humble

The event of the Annunciation sums up the message of the Incarnation. God, the Most High, enters our world to be one of us. He is humble enough to be born by the one he created. In Jesus Christ, the creator bends down to espouse his creature. The divine is married to the human in order to form the same body. The one relies on the other to bring to fruition the plan of salvation.

As we celebrate the feast of the Annunciation of the Lord, let us prepare ourselves to allow the Lord to be born and reborn in our hearts. Let us not take everything for granted. A new day is an occasion for us to be born into a new reality. We are to learn to create a new world every day and to find a new way of being in the world at every moment of our lives. Let us depart from our own understanding of security and turn our hearts to God in whom we find our true security: in him alone.

Prayer: Lord, Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, helps us to live our humanity in its fullness in order to be truly divine.

Resolution: Write down what I need to depart from to give life to God’s word dwelling within me.