March 25, 2020
Today the Western Catholic Church celebrates the feast of the Annunciation, when Gabriel appeared to Mary to extend God’s invitation to her to bear and give birth to His Son. (I like to also call this day the Feast of the Invitation… just saying.) In response to God’s invitation she said “Be it done unto me
according to thy word”; in other words, “Yes”. From that moment the Divine, Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God, united himself with everything human and was conceived within her, in person, not just the beginning of his body, but his personhood was conceived immediately. He was there, within, right away. It was not after the first trimester of her pregnancy, not after the second, nor did he suddenly show up the moment he was born. No… God the Son became human, united himself with humanity, was Incarnate, right away and he was there her entire pregnancy. Amazingly, nine months later to the day, Jesus was born. At least that is how our liturgical calendar is set.
In a letter, Pope Leo I (the Great) wrote about the mystery of man’s reconciliation with God describing it this way:
“He who is true God was therefore born in the complete and perfect nature of a true man, whole in his own nature, whole in ours. He emptied himself; though invisible he made himself visible, though the Creator and Lord of all things he chose to be one of us mortal men. Yet this was the condescension of compassion, not the loss of omnipotence. So he who in the nature of God had created man, became in the nature of a servant, man himself.
He was born in a new condition, for, invisible in his own nature, he became visible in ours. Beyond our grasp, he chose to become within our grasp. Existing before time began, he began to exist at a moment in time. Lord of the universe, he hid his infinite glory and took the nature of a servant. Incapable of suffering as God, he did not refuse to become a man, capable of suffering. Immortal, he chose to be subject to the laws of death.
He who is true God is also true man. There is no falsehood in his unity. One nature is resplendent with miracles, the other falls victim to injuries. One and the same person — this must be said over and over again — is truly the Son of God and truly the son of man. He is God in virtue of the fact that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John :11) He is man in virtue of the fact that the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) (from “The Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings” for the Feast of the Annunciation)
The Incarnation is not something that just suddenly happened when Christ was born. It began when Mary said yes. Praise God that she did!