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Father Muench Says...

Annunciation was the feast we needed

April 1, 2020

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I find it rather interesting that often a feast day will come along just when we need it. I am thinking today of the Feast of the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord that was celebrated on March 25. This feast comes each year during Lent. This year, this feast day comes in the middle of this pandemic crisis. I believe this celebration has much to show us these days. Our human race is suffering as a whole from the invasions of this coronavirus. This Solemnity of the Annunciation celebrates the glorification of the human race. Our feast celebrates Jesus coming to our world.

The Annunciation is the story of the Incarnation of the Lord. The Annunciation is the story of the Angel Gabriel coming to Mary, a young Jewish woman in Nazareth of Galilee to proclaim to her that she has been chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus, the Savior of the world. Gabriel greets Mary by saying, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you!” This greeting is familiar to all of us. We say these words of Gabriel each time we say Mary’s prayer – the Hail Mary. Gabriel speaks of Jesus, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” Mary accepts her part in our salvation, “May it be done to me according to your word.”

We believe in the incarnation of the Our Lord. We believe that Jesus, the Son of God became one of us – Jesus became part of the human race, a man who was divine. Jesus lived among us, Jesus taught us of God’s great love for us, Jesus died for us, Jesus rose again from the dead to a new life.

Our world changed completely because Jesus became one of us. Our human race is saved. Jesus is one of us. Our race is glorified and special. In addition, one of us, Mary, a woman and mother like all other women and mothers, is chosen by God to be the Mother of Jesus.

When I think of the Incarnation of Jesus, I am reminded of an essay written by Thomas Merton, the well-known Trappist Monk and author. He writes this about Jesus, “It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race, though it is a race dedicated to many absurdities and one which makes many terrible mistakes: yet, with all that, God Himself gloried in becoming a member of the human race. A member of the human race!”

Merton speaks so highly of this image. We are a very special people. We are a holy and sacred people. Jesus is one of us.

Merton offers us this image: “There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun. There are no strangers! If only we could see each other as we really are all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed.”

I would like to think that such a spirit in faith and confidence would mean that we, the people of this world, would be always ready to work together. We are united in this race because Jesus is one of us. We should have a deep concern for each other, a true spirit of cooperation. This is more than a powerful image. In faith this is a powerful reality. This human race – made glorious for Jesus is one of us – must recognize how glorious and sacred we are.

May we work together with God’s help to make this a loving and peaceful world.

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