Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Lk 1,28
“Annunciate your words.” Often when I was a small child growing up I heard those words spoken to me by my father. When I was small, I had a slight lisp that I struggled with and I still have to be aware of speaking clearly and forming carefully each word that I speak. My father would tell me, “People will not understand you if you do not speak clearly.” If I have something important to communicate to others, then I need to speak clearly and distinctly.
The Solemn Feast of the Annunciation reminds us of the importance of proclaiming a message carefully, clearly and distinctly so that it will be understood by those who are receiving the message. The proclamation on the Feast of the Annunciation is not just “words” that are carried by the angel Gabriel to Mary, but it is “the Word” that is being proclaimed. The seed of the Word is about to be sown in the womb of Mary and she is about to become pregnant with the Word that will grow and develop within her until she gives birth to Jesus, the Son of the Most High, the heir of the throne of David and the Savior of the people of God. It is important that the angel proclaim this message clearly so that Mary will be able to ponder that mystery that is unfolding within her womb. The Word must be spoken clearly and distinctly so that it may accomplish its purpose (Is 55,11).
The proclamation of the angel Gabriel encompasses both the past, present and future of salvation history. The Word was, is and always will be. The Word that is annunciated by the angel Gabriel is the fulfillment of every promise of the past, spoken by God to the prophets. He is the heir of the promise given to David, to the house of Jacob and to Abraham, the father of faith. The Word is the present, the gift of love from the Father through the Spirit that fills us with the divine presence. The Word is the presence of the overshadowing Shekinah that makes us aware that “the Lord is with you.” The Word is the seed of the Logos that creates the new day and is full of life. The Word is Emmanuel, “God with us,” always walking with us along the way of life. The Word is the future glory to be revealed, the one who will save God’s people and who will pronounce our final judgement. The truth revealed that promises that, “nothing will be impossible for God.” (Lk 1,37) All of life is contained in the Word, annunciated to the world.
Mary is the perfect vessel to annunciate the Word. She is the Immaculate Conception, the one without the obstacle of sin, who can perfectly, clearly and distinctly bring the Word into incarnate being. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1,38) The entire life of Mary will be in service to the Word.
“Annunciate your words.” My father’s advice and admonition will be with me always. The Eternal Father has given me a greater charge, “Annunciate the Word.” The Word of God that dwells in my heart must always be proclaimed clearly and distinctly so that others may understand the reason for my hope (1Pt 3,15). The Word must be annunciated, not only in words, but more importantly in the way that I live my life. Like Mary, my entire life must be lived in service to the Word of God. My witness to Christ, the Eternal Word Incarnate, must be clear and distinct. The world today is full of noise and confusion. It is difficult for people to hear the Word and understand what it is asking of us. We must speak the Word with even greater clarity.
As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation, may we all be reminded to, “Annunciate the Word!” May our lives speak clearly and distinctly the Word of love that God has spoken to the world through Jesus. May we give the world a reason to hope and may we “name him Jesus.”