Thursday, March 25, 2010

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

(Isaiah 7:10-14.8:10; Hebrews 10:4-11; Luke 1:26-38)

The Bible asserts the dignity of all persons by noting that the first humans are created in the image of God. But assuredly human dignity is raised a few notches by the mystery on which we meditate today. Jesus, our Creator whose being we reflect, becomes one of us whose life we are to emulate. We call today’s feast “The Annunciation,” but, as is done in some parts of the world, we can say that it is the Feast of the Incarnation. Today we celebrate the eternal Son of God taking flesh within the womb of the Virgin Mary.

There are myths of gods taking human form in other religions. But what makes Jesus Christ so different is, ironically, his ordinariness. Yes, being virgin-born is certainly unique, and we have marvelous accounts of his power over nature. But there are no fantastic stories of his repelling arrows and slaying armies. Even Jesus’ cures and certainly his standard operation are like those of other Jewish prophets and rabbis. Indeed, in many ways he is just like us.

It is the chain of events at the very end of his life that manifestly separates Jesus from everyone else. He surrenders himself to be humiliated, tortured, and executed even though he is innocent of any crime. Then he is raised from the dead as a validation that his self-sacrifice is neither fatalistic nor quixotic but ordained on High. It demonstrates God’s plan to elevate humans even higher than their exalted status over the rest of creation. Now we can glimpse the reason for our emulating Jesus. Doing so will lead to our sharing in his resurrection from the dead and in his eternal life.