Wednesday 25th March 2020
“The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.”
This is the moment which this great Feast Day celebrates – the moment when the Son of God began His human life in Mary’s womb. This is a Feast of Life – a Feast which shows the value of every human life, from the moment of conception to death.
The Eternal God, who has no beginning and no end; the infinite God who is beyond all limits: this same God in the Person of the Son became one of us. He began to share in our beginnings and our ends, and also our limitations. He made one human life His own. In doing so, He embraces every human life.
It all begins at a certain place and a certain time – in Nazareth over 2000 years ago. It begins with a certain person – Mary – and she is betrothed to Joseph. Into her life the Angel Gabriel enters. Her life will never be the same again. The Angel tells her she is to be the mother of the “Son of the Most High” – and “His reign will have no end.” In that moment of the conception of Jesus, there is suddenly opened up great, splendid horizon of eternal life. It must have been breath-taking for Mary: to suddenly see in a flash that her decision to say yes right now was the dawn of eternal salvation. Imagine how stunning it must have been for her – to see how her Yes to the angel was the threshold upon which an eternal kingdom was being born.
Today, our church is closed and I am celebrating Mass without a physical congregation. The country is on lockdown. We are being told NO to most of what we normally would do – visiting family, meeting friends and neighbours, going to Mass and many other everyday activities. Many of us are spending much of our time at home. We may be feeling very restricted or even a bit shell-shocked.
Yet, it was probably in her home that Mary received God’s messenger and where she said Yes to God’s plan. Our homes right now can also be places of encounter with God. We can pray. We can read the Bible. We can make spiritual communions. We can pray the Mass spiritually at the time when it is being celebrated here in the parish – or we can watch it on-line. We can pray the Rosary and ask Mary to teach us to say Yes to God’s will as she did. By staying put as the Government requires, we are also saying Yes to the value of human life, to preventing the spread of the virus which can harm those with underlying conditions, and we’re saying Yes to supporting our doctors, nurses and healthcare workers.
In doing all these things, maybe we will find that our own homes have more in common with Mary’s home in Nazareth than we realised. They are places for us to learn to say Yes to God. Every time we do, we take another step towards the horizon of eternal beauty which was opened up by Mary’s simple words. And every time we say Yes to God, the eternal God once more enters another home in this world.