Annunciation, the first Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary. The Annunciation, the message of the Lord delivered by the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, is the first step that Jesus takes towards earth. It is the first step in the reclaiming of sin, sin which began with Eve, the first mother of the nations. It is the miraculous precursor to the Incarnation, the life and death of Christ, and our eternal salvation. The Annunciation is at once a moment of calm acceptance, and like most of the event in the life of Our Blessed Mother, a moment of deeply troubling foreshadowing, of fear, and of danger. And yet, led by her hunger for the Lord, and her faith in His protection, Mary offers herself unreservedly. “I am the handmaid of the Lord,” she says. “Let it be done to me according to His word.”
26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
34"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
35The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37For nothing is impossible with God."
38"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1: 26-38)
The arrival of Gabriel tore Mary’s world apart. She was greatly troubled by it. She was being asked to do the impossible, something that would cause her great pain, humiliation, and even potential death. The punishment for pregnancy out of wedlock was stoning in Mary’s day, and even if Joseph were to stand by her, it would require them leaving their home, packing up their lives, heading into the danger of foreign and unfamiliar lands. Mary’s life would change dramatically and completely.
So, too, it can be with us. We are called each day by the Lord to live lives of faith and service to others. Of course, we know this call because of the life and preaching of Jesus, He whom Mary brought forth in virginity, having accepted the message of an angel. But we do not possess the faith of Our Blessed Mother, nor do we share her unwavering confidence and hope in the Lord. All too often, our call to service is too difficult for us, too scary, too inconvenient. And instead of accepting the Lord with all of our heart, we turn away. We say, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” We say, No.”
“You who are astonished at what is wrought in Mary’s body, imitate it in your soul’s inmost chamber. Sincerely believe in God’s justice, and you conceive Christ. Bring forth words of salvation, and you have given birth to Christ.”
The Annunciation is a moment of joy in the life of Mary, in the life of the Church, in our own lives. May we strive to imitate the gracious acceptance of Our Blessed Mother, her loving faith and hope in the Lord, and her unyielding confidence in His protection, mercy, and plan.
Lord Jesus Christ,
You became Incarnate as man
in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
You, through whom the universe was created,
began your earthly course,
in the womb of a humble and chaste Virgin.
At the annunciation of this miracle,
Mary responded in faith:
"let it be done to me
according to your word."
May we who are made new creatures
by your grace,
respond with such faith,
when you call us to your service. Amen
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."