Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Annunciation: God at the Center of Our Lives

(Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary-Year B; This homily was given on 25 March, 2009 at the Chapel of The American College of the Immaculate Conception in Louvain, Belgium; See Luke 1:26-38)

The Blessed Virgin Mary is a woman who placed God at the very center of her life.

All the gospels, everything we learn about our Blessed Mother from the teachings of our faith, and every aspect of a true devotion to Mary emphasize that same central reality: Mary placed God at the very center of her life.

That is also the reason why she is able to respond the way she does in St. Luke’s Gospel this morning. When greeted by the Angel Gabriel with the most remarkable and amazing news, even amidst the fear and questions that she would have had and in spite of all the obstacles in her way, so many events that she could never foresee, Mary is able to say: Yes.

Fiat voluntas tua.

Let it be done unto me
according to your word.
—Luke 1:38

If this is God's plan then this is what I want, because God is at the very center of my life.

This reality in the life of the Virgin Mary is the key to understanding why we celebrate this Solemnity of the Annunciation today, on March 25. This calendar date has absolutely no historical significance to the Blessed Virgin Mary whatsoever. The traditional months dedicated to Our Lady are October and May, not March (but let's be honest: how could there be a month in any calendar that does not honor her).

But in celebrating this feast today, we turn immediately not to Mary but to her Son, and our Lord, Jesus Christ. We look to the incarnation of the eternal Son of God and the celebration of that feast on December 25, and then we simply turn the calendar back 9 months to the moment He is conceived.

Jesus Christ is the source, center and point of reference for the feast we celebrate today, just as He was the source, the center and the point of reference for everything else in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. That is precisely the way she wanted it, because Mary placed God at the very center of her life.

And because she placed Him at the center, and completely surrendered herself to His perfect plan and desire for her life, Mary comes to experience God even physically as the center of her life. The Son of God is conceived within her, and suddenly God is growing physically in the center of her body.

Mary nurtures and loves the Author of Life within her, and her greatest desire is to bring Him into the world so that He can be made manifest as the center of the entire universe, that He may be the center of our own redemption, our own salvation and eternal life with God.

Now, if God can do that—bring about so great a salvation through one woman who willingly, knowingly and with great love placed God at the center of her life—imagine what he can do in your life and mine today, and every day, if only we place God at the very center of our lives.