This past week we celebrated a major solemnity of the Church Year: The Annunciation of the Lord (March 25th). The Church placed this feast on this particular day for a number of reasons, one of which is to celebrate it exactly 9 months before the birth of Christ at Christmas. When it comes right down to it, the great festivals of Christmas and Easter depend on the Annunciation: for on this feast, Christianity began, since the divine entered human history in the womb of the Virgin Mary. God takes the amazing step of asking one of His creations to consent to be the Mother of His Son. It is made even more astounding that Miriam of Nazareth was a 14-year-old girl at the time of the Archangel Gabriel’s visitation!
Think of that: The Creator and Sustainer of the Universe waits to receive the answer of this teenager! Wow! Talk about the respect that God has for the freedom of each of us! Miriam could have said no!
So our redemption was made possible by the courage and faith of this youngster, living in a small village in a backward region in a third-rate country named Palestine.
Then we have the Incarnation itself. ‘Incarnation’ is a complicated and ‘churchy’ word. These words are familiar to us, but unfortunately do not impact us with the power of their meaning.
Incarnation means that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, still in full divinity, became flesh; a singular occurrence. Unrepeatable and unprecedented. The being that became Jesus of Nazareth therefore had two natures: He was human and He was divine. When someone at the time looked at this carpenter, they were looking into the eyes of Jesus the Man and Jesus the Son of God. These two natures remained complete and unmixed.
This is a scandal to the other two monotheistic religions: Judaism and Islam. For them, God cannot become human. One is a Creator and the other is a creature. They cannot be in the same person.
To make it even more difficult, we have a hard time explaining it and talking about it theologically. The history of the Church records many conflicts between orthodoxy (correct teaching) and heresy (incorrect and erroneous teaching). There have actually been pitched battles within Christianity about this. For Muslims, Jesus was a great prophet of God, but only human. For Jews, Jesus was a Rabbi who claimed to be a Messiah, but was not. For Christians, Jesus is fully human and fully divine.
The feast of Christmas celebrates the birth of this Jesus and Holy Week makes real the final journey of Jesus to Jerusalem, His redemptive Death, and His Resurrection. To be a true Christian means that we not only admire Jesus as a sort of perfect human being. It means that we worship Him as God.
The man born blind in the 9th Chapter of the Gospel of John not only is given his physical sight by Jesus, but he embarks on a journey of faith as his spiritual vision is restored. He is investigated by the religious authorities three times. At the end of the first encounter, he replies that he thinks Jesus is a human being. During the second trial he comes to the conclusion that He must be a prophet. At the end of the third investigation, he encounters Jesus who reveals His divinity to him. He gets down on his knees and worships Him as the Son of the Most High.
It is not enough for a Christian to call Jesus a friend. He is that and more! One must encounter Him as Lord. Until we accept the Divinity of Christ, we are not really Christians, we are fans of the man Jesus.
The Incarnation, once theologically and spiritually accepted, means that we are no longer our own. We belong to Him. He is our Lord!
O Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes & Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us who have recourse to thee!