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. . . And The Heavens Paused


In her, God spun a garment with which to save us.” ~ Saint Ephrem

The Gospel chosen for the 4th Sunday of Advent (Luke 1:26-38) takes us back to the Annunciation of our Lord, an event which our Church recognizes and formally commemorates every year by virtue of its March 25th Feast Day

“Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God,” proclaims the Angel Gabriel to the startled 13 year old Jewish girl, the only child of Anne and Joachim. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you,” he goes on to say, explaining to Mary that this child to be born will be called holy, and the Son of God. It is right here, nestled within the text of this acclamation, that the Mystery of the Annunciation would be revealed: The two persons required for the Incarnation were the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Mother. This miracle, one which would conquer death and open the Gates of Heaven, was now poised to unfold. Provided this startled 13 year old Jewish girl would say yes to God’s will.

Life by its very nature is constantly presenting those who live it with these suspenseful and dramatic moments of truth wherein the answer to a fateful happening hangs in the balance.

”The Tony Award for best Broadway Musical goes to...”

“The release date for the new iPhone is slated for...”

“Was it Colonel Mustard, with the lead pipe, in the Conservatory?”

“Will you marry me?”

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The aforementioned scenarios of course pale in comparison to the drama of Mary and the Angel Gabriel. All of humanity would hinge on her response. Father Paul Porter in his Homily this weekend suggests that the Heavens paused as they awaited an answer from this pure and sinless virgin.

Could Mary have said no to the Angel Gabriel? We’ve reflected briefly upon that hypothetical scenario in the past, but as we ponder the mystery of the Annunciation, we call to mind the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who called this seminal moment a “humble, hidden event.” He goes on to point out that “No one saw it. No one, other than Mary, even knew of it. But, at the same time, it was crucial to the history of humanity. When the Virgin said her “yes” to the Angel’s announcement, Jesus was conceived and with Him began the new era of history that was to be ratified in Easter as the ‘new and eternal Covenant.’”

God awaits our “Yes” with the same urgency. The heavens pause and rejoice with great delight whenever one of God’s beloved children declares him or herself the handmaid of the Lord as Mary did during her fateful encounter with Gabriel. Scripture tells us that our Lord rejoices in a particularly profound way at the prospect of a thoroughly wayward sinner repenting and returning to the Father (Luke 15:7, 11-32). We know that the Son of God is quick to leave the herd of 99 to find the 1 (Matthew 18:12–14 & Luke 15:3–7).

May Mother Mary inspire each of us during this Advent Season to ardently pursue God’s will in our lives. For blessed are you too who believes that what was spoken to you by the Lord will be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:45).

“Him, whom the heavens cannot contain, the womb of one woman bore. She ruled our Ruler, she carried Him, in whom we are, she gave milk to our Bread.” ~ Saint Augustine

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