Today, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord has been celebrated in the Western Church since the seventh century, in the East since the sixth century. The reformed Calendar of 1969 restored its original title “Adnuntiatio Domini,” making it clear that this is primarily a feast of Christ.
Although primarily a feast of Christ it is also a feast of Mary. Pope Paul VI said: “the feast was and is a joint one of Christ and the Blessed Virgin who becomes Mother of God.” At the end of today’s Gospel Mary says. “Here I am. the Lord’s servant, let it happen to me as you have said.” As Cardinal Carlo Martini SJ wrote in his book “The Gospel way of Mary:, “This is more than a mere yes but a joyful and loving acceptance. The verb is optative, voluntary and thus expresses a wholehearted yes.”
There are an amazing number of paintings that depict this scene. I found at least five that are in the National Gallery. Fra Angelico painted quite a few frescoes depicting this scene. In several Mary has an open book on her lap. This suggests to me that she is aware of the words of Isaiah “behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights: (Isaiah 42:1) Also “You are my servant I have chosen you…”;fear not, for I am with you.(Isaiah 41:10). In Mary saying yes is embracing a life of sacrifice. She seeks what pleases God in all things. The other symbol we often see in painting of the annunciation is the Holy Spirit as a dove. The Holy spirit overshadowed Mary so she was able to live out this Yes, this fiat.
Let us pray that our hearts be open, as was Mary’s, to receive God’s word and to be generous in responding to it. May we accept the joy and suffering of life in a spirit of obedient faith, ready to do God’s will at all times.