One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

March 25, 2009

For the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Isaiah 7:10-14 & 8:10
Hebrews 10:4-10
Luke 1:26-38

Today we have the start of the Christmas mystery.
Today and on Christmas, we kneel down to tell of God the Son that: “by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”
Today also points to Good Friday and the Ascension.
The first reading says the mystery we celebrate today is “deep as the nether world” and “high as the sky.”
God became a member of mankind, was born in flesh and blood from the Virgin Mary, suffered, died, and went down to the nether world.
He rose from the dead, and in flesh and blood ascended into the sky.
His mission is “deep as the nether world” and “high as the sky.”
Today the psalm, second reading, and Gospel echo with obedience to that mission.
Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Behold, I come to do your will.

Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.

The angel told Mary her Son would have a mission “high as the sky.”
However, the angel did not say the mission would also go “deep as the nether world.”
Jesus will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his Father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.

The second reading said the mission of Jesus enfolded his sacrificial death to take away sins that send men to the nether world.
It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats takes away sins.
For this reason, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me.
... behold, I come to do your will, O God.”
.... By this “will,” we have been consecrated
through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.

The once-for-all sacrificial offering of Christ’s Body and Blood takes away our sins, consecrates us, makes us holy, joins us to God.
That once-for-all sacrificial offering is really present in the Eucharist for us to eat, drink, and be joined in it’s offering to the Father.
We must choose to return again and again to be joined to the sacrificial offering of the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ, because we remain free and liable to sin.
The Eucharistic Sacrifice consecrates us to God, but we are responsible to carry out that consecration in our daily lives.
The daily work-plan and lifelong road of our consecration is marked out in the spoken communion between the angel and Mary.
Together with Mary’s “Yes” to the Spirit and the Word of the Lord— together with Mary, God opened the road for his own coming into the world, so that he himself could be the road for man’s going up into the new heavens and earth.
The plan and the road that the
angel tells, and that Mary chooses to follow, are for us also to choose and follow.
First, there is the impossible beginning: “the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son.”
For us there is the equal impossibility that the sinner shall be a child of God.
Mary asks the question for us, “How can this be?”
The angel’s answer to the impossibility of virgin motherhood is also the answer to the impossibility of sinners being children of God.
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”
By the power that is the Holy Spirit, sinners are reborn as the holy children of God, just as by the same Holy Spirit the Son of God was born a man of flesh and blood from a virgin.
As the angel said: “nothing will be impossible for God.”
The Holy Spirit overpowers the impossibility of virgin motherhood and the impossibility of sinners being children holy to God.
However, the Holy Spirit does not overpower the will of the Virgin or the will of the sinner.
After telling Mary of the Father’s will and the Spirit’s power, the angel lets Mary have the last word.
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
It is the same with us.
The Holy Spirit overpowers the impossibility of our sins, but does not overpower our wills.
The Holy Spirit waits for us to say our own “Yes” and to choose to live as handmaids and menservants of the Lord.
When Mary said “Yes,” the Son of God came from heaven, and by the power of the Holy Spirit he received the holy communion of body and blood from Mary’s body and blood— our body and blood— and was born a member of our race.
So, we call him Emmanu-El, “God-with-Us,” in flesh and blood.
In flesh and blood sacrifice, he took our sins away with him to death on the cross.
By his rising from the dead, our flesh and blood now breathe the Holy Spirit, and are consecrated to ascend to the side of God the Father.
In the person of Christ, our flesh and blood— by the Holy Spirit and from the Virgin Mary— our flesh and blood now sit at the right hand of the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
Now the Father and the Spirit can call Christ Emmanu-ISH, “MAN-with-Us.”
To be with God— the dignity to be with God and the power to be with God— that dignity and power are the Spirit that already overshadows, anoints, and fills us, but always waits for us to say the last word.
“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
If we serve faithfully to the end, we will rise to live with God in the Paradise of the new heavens and the new earth.
At the side of our Father, each of us will be finally worthy to receive the same greeting Mary received from the angel.
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
Forever and ever!

That God Be Glorified in All


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