Reflecting on the Gospel for this Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, I first am reminded of the many pictures of Mary and the angel Gabriel, and most especially as represented by the masters of the Italian Renaissance. How young the Blessed Virgin is, how very much in the springtime of her life!
And here in the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, we are of course in our springtime, and indeed, it is a season of annunciations. While it is hardly original of me to consider the greening grass, the brave crocus and the bright daffodil to be making announcements, they are, and so are the buttery yellow forsythia, the thickening maple buds and the pale yellow-green film on the weeping willows. The lusty unstoppable chorus of the birds at sunrise and in the evening, too, and even the briskly impudent April winds are telling us: the world of nature is being born: respond, you winter-weary! God has things more wonderful than you ever imagined coming to delight you in the days ahead!
But far to the south of the equator, it is autumn, with its own splendors. Those splendors, of course, signal the hardness of winter, and appearances of death. An announcement of birth is balanced by an announcement of its opposite. Is it necessary, then, that there is only a grim cycle, only an answer to a cry of joy with the hush of inevitable extinction?
No, and in the full message of the Angel Gabriel, and in the response
of Our Lady, we have an answering promise. With her immediate "Yes!"
to God's offer, I doubt that Mary knew that the child to be born
who would be the Son of God would have to suffer and die most horribly.
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