Monday, March 26, 2007

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Bartolomo Esteban Murillo. Annunciation.
c.1660-65. Oil on canvas. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain. (Source)

On today's feast the Church celebrates the mystery of the Incarnation and, at the same time, the vocation of Our Lady. It was her faithful response to the angel's message, her fiat, that began the work of redemption...

The setting of this feast day, March 25th, corresponds to Christmas. In addition, there is ancient tradition that the creation of the world and the commencement and conclusion of the Redemption all happened to coincide at the vernal equinox.

The Incarnation should have a pronounced and dramatic on our life. This event is the central moment of human history. Without Christ, life has no meaning. Christ the Redeemer "fully reveals man to himself" (Encyclical, Redemptor Hominis). It is only through Christ that we will come to comprehend our inner self and everything that matters most to us: the hidden value of pain and of work well done, the authentic peace and joy which surpass natural feelings and life's uncertainties, the delightful prospect of our supernatural reward in our eternal homeland...

The human testimony of the Son of God teaches us that all earthly realities ought to be loved and offered up to Heaven. Christ has transformed the human condition into a pathway to God. Consequently, the Christian's struggle for perfection takes on a profoundly positive character. This struggle has nothing to do with snuffing out one's humanity so that the divine might shine out instead. Sanctity does not necessitate total separation from worldly affairs. For it is not human nature that opposes God's will, but sin and the effects of original sin which have so badly damaged our souls. Our struggle to become like Christ brings with it a life-long battle against whatsoever degrades our humanity -- egoism, envy, sensuality, a critical spirit ...

In the same way as the humanity of Christ is not effaced by his dignity, so it is that through the Incarnation the human condition preserves its integrity and finds its final end.

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