HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD
Bishop Rene Henry Gracida
who willed that your Word
should take on the reality of human flesh
in the womb of the Virgin Mary,
grant, we pray,
that we, who confess our Redeemer to be God and man,
may merit to become partakers even in his divine nature.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
for ever and ever.
The spoken word can be powerful.
The spoken word can produce marvelous effects.
Magicians throughout history have worked their magic after an invoctation, such as,
“hocus pocus dominus”
Craig Conley, a scholar of magic,
writes that the magic words used by magicians may originate from “pseudo-Latin phrases, nonsense syllables, or esoteric terms from religious antiquity,”
but that what they have in common is “language as an instrument of creation.”
Words can create, but words can also destroy.
Children used to recite the nursery rhyme “Sticks and stones my break my bones, but names can never hurt me!”
That is not true!
When I was in grade school I got into school ground fights and the bruises I received have long been forgotten, but some of the names I was called hurt and I have never forgotten the hurt they inflicted on me.
When a criminal hears the judge pronounce the sentence of death as punishment for the crime the criminal already begins to feel deadly effects of that sentence.
Of all the words that we humans can speak that produce amazing good effects,
none can compare with the words the priest says as he celebrates a sacrament:
“I baptize you……”
“Be sealed with the Holy Spirit….”
“I absolve from your sins….”
“I now pronounce you man and wife…”
“Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…”
and most important of all:
“Hoc est enim corpus meum…
“This is my body…this is my blood”
It is by the power of Christ that those words produce miraculous effects.
But of all the words that humans can speak and have spoken, even the words that a priest says when he celebrates the Eucharist, none can equal the importance of the words spoken by a teenage girl in Israel.
When Mary said these words:
“May it be done to me according to your word!
time stood still for a moment and when the clock starter ticking again the world was in
“Anno Domini” the Lord’s time.
You know the story of how Mary was betrothed to Joseph but not yet married to him. Betrothal is no longer common.
Betrothal is more than engagement.
The implications of a pregnancy while betrothed must have been frightening to
Mary. It made her subject to be stoned, for adultery, according to Jewish law
But such was her trust in God that she did not hesitate to give her consent.
The words of Mary’s response to the Angel were infinitely greater than the word even of the priest at the consecration of the Mass because her words gave the human nature to the Second Person of the Trinity, now present in our time as Jesus Christ.
A good test of one’s trust in God during the remainder of Lent is to reflect on the occasions in your life when human respect, what others might think of you, prevented you from saying or doing something good that the Holy Spirit was prompting you to say or do.
I can testify that there have been several occasions when I felt the strong impulse to do a good deed for another but failed to do it out of fear what others would think of me. That was not the case with Mary.
give us the grace to imitate our
in placing all our trust in you without hesitation.
She, without hesitation and without calculating the cost in human respect that would be hers in freely giving her “yes” to the Angel Gabriel became a model for all of us to place our trust in you.
This we ask through Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you union with the Holy Spirit,