The Church keeps the feast of the Annunciation on the 25th of March. There is still a touch of austerity upon the earth, there is still a silver emptiness in the skies, but expectation of spring is already stirring in the human heart, the bud is beginning to break on the tree, the promise of blossom has quickened the spirit of man.
This is the season when we celebrate the wedding of the Holy Spirit with humanity, the wedding of Spirit of Wisdom and Love with the dust of the earth . I think the most moving fact in the whole history of mankind is that wherever the Holy Spirit has desired to renew the face of the earth he has chosen to do so through communion with some humble little human creature.
In the instances we know of, it has not been to great or powerful people that the Spirit has come but to the little or the frightened, and we have seen them made new, and known that the subsequent flowering of their lives was nothing else but Christ given to them by that sweet impact.
It is always a love story, a culmination of love between the Spirit of Light and the Bride of the Spirit. This is something which can happen to everyone now, but it could not have happened to anyone but for the fiat of the peasant girl in
whom the whole world calls Our Lady. Nazareth
It is in Our Lady that God fell in love with Humanity… in the virginal emptiness of the girl, Mary of Nazareth, Christ was conceived; it was the wedding of God to a human child, and the wonder of it filled the earth for all time.
Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God
Reflection – Happy feast day to you all! It is moved this year from March 25 to April 8, the first day after the Octave of Easter, but Solemnity of the Annunciation it is, nonetheless. A joyous day to you all. We have just finished celebrating Christ saving us in the Paschal Mystery of his death and resurrection. This saving work could not have been accomplished as we know it has unless this little girl had consented to bear Him in her womb, to give her flesh to become His Body.
This chapter from Houselander’s masterwork—a book to be owned, read, cherished if you have not already done so—is such a profound exploration of this mystery that I think I may excerpt bits and pieces of it for the next few days on the blog. It is incredibly relevant in this Easter season that we contemplate the mystery of the Incarnation and how God chose to do it.
The reason it is relevant in Easter in particular is that this is the very way in which all the power and glory and might and workings of Christ’s death and resurrection become operative in our lives. Mary said fiat—let it be done to me according to your will. The Word was made flesh, was born, lived, suffered, died, and rose again. But now this same angel, this same God stands before you and me and says ‘will you?’ And it is our fiat that opens our own hearts and lives to this same Word and this same God, who now (because of Mary) has a human face and a human heart and a human name, Jesus of Nazareth.
And has human wounds and bears the mark of human suffering. God did all this for us, but He did it through and with the co-operation of a human creature named Mary. And His ongoing work, His work here and now in the world to extend the kingdom of love and joy, of beauty and truth, rests on the co-operation of a human creature named (insert your name here).
Christ is risen from the dead, and now he walks the earth looking for souls who will give their living bodies to Him to imbue with his Spirit, so that His love can flow freely in all the rivers and streams of the human world, can be that seed planted deep in the human field, can bear fruit as rich ripe grain to feed the human table.
So the mystery of Mary and the Incarnation is deeply related, vitally related to the mystery of Easter and the saving work of God in Christ’s death and resurrection. You and I need to say ‘yes’ to God, and this yes to God makes the love of the Cross and the joy of the empty tomb visible in the world, so that the world can come to believe, so that other people too can come to say yes to God and so make him visible in their turn. Isn’t God wonderful to involve us so intimately in his saving work?