Today, we celebrate one of the most important days in the history of the universe: an angel visited a young woman, personally delivering a message from God; the young woman listened and said “Yes” to God’s will; and the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Lord of Life and Love, assumed a human nature.
Is it not amazing to take all of that in?
It would be amazing enough if an angel were to appear to us to personally deliver God’s will! So, in celebrating the Annunciation, let us remember our guardian angels who work and help us in mysterious, invisible ways. These spiritual creatures, more powerful than we can imagine, are bound by God’s will and God’s love to their human charges with exclusive dedication. They too said “Yes” to God, and agreed to use their great power in order to protect us, help us, guide us. And most of us probably do not pay them a single thought on most days.
If we don’t pay them any mind–or worse, if we brush them off as fairy tails or as harmless, fluffy, pet-like creatures–then we not only endanger ourselves, but we cut off a great source of wisdom and knowledge about what God’s will is. On the other hand, if we cultivate a relationship with our personal angelic guardians, if we listen for their voices and feel for their movements, we will naturally cling closely to them and gain a better understanding of God’s will and what it means to serve God humbly, without any of the pride of Lucifer, who said, “Non serviam”–”I shall not serve.”
In celebrating the Annunciation, let us pray to be in closer relationship with our guardian angels. Let us pray with all the faith, love, and devotion of children:
Angel of God, my guardian dear,
To whom His love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
to light, to guard, to rule and guide.
Our guardian angels won’t deliver such astonishing messages as St. Gabriel delivered to Mary. But we might be surprised, nonetheless, if we open ourselves to receiving our own personal “annunciations.” And on the chance that we receive a request from God that seems impossibly difficult and maybe even a little crazy… what will we respond?
In celebrating the Annunciation, let us pray to say “Yes” to God just like Mary. And let us thank and praise God for always giving us the freedom to say “yes” or “no.” He did not force His will upon Mary, and He does not force His will upon us. This is another thing we tend to forget or to take for granted. For many, freedom means the choice to say “no” to God. No, no, no, like a child in his “terrible twos.” Always no to God. That’s the liberty Lucifer took. But the greater freedom is to say “yes” to God, as the loyal angels did, as the Virgin Mary did, and as many great people throughout history have. Saying “yes” to God often means saying “no” to ourselves, our desires, our comforts, our appetites, and things that may truly seem best for us. It often demands radical trust and courage. It is by far the noblest form of freedom.
For all the goodness and love Mary displayed on the day the angel appeared to her, the world’s supreme goodness and love–He who is Goodness and Love themselves!–came into the world that day. He came from eternity into time and space. He took to His perfect spirit human flesh with all of its frailties, appetites, and complaints. He who is Life Itself took on the curses of pain and death. And He did it because He loves us.
In celebrating the Annunciation, let us thank and praise Christ the Lord, true God and true man, for His ultimate gift of Self. Let us thank Him for His love and goodness to us. Let us ask His forgiveness for all the times we have turned away from Him or taken Him for granted. Let us celebrate His constant mercy and patience–the way He is always there for us when we turn back to Him. If you are Catholic, perhaps this would be a perfect day to turn to the Sacrament of Confession, if it is available to you. Nothing brings home the love of Christ the way Confession does. Holy Communion may be the source and summit, but Confession enables us to be fully receptive to Holy Communion, and to all the other Sacraments as well. To be close to God, we have to be in a state of grace, free of mortal sin–Confession brings us into that state. No matter how many times we fall from it, Confession always restores us. The Lord cleanses us in the Blood He shed on the Cross. The Cross that was His destiny from the moment he was conceived as a child.
It is rather appropriate, isn’t it, that the Annunciation falls in Lent.