April 8, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier The Annunciation of Our Lord
Reading I (Isaiah 7:10-14) Reading II (Hebrews 10:4-10)
Gospel (St. Luke 1:26-38)
In the Gospel reading today, we see a couple of points that are critically important for us. That is, more than anything, this feast shows us the truth of who Our Lady is - and it is her humility. We hear the angel coming to Our Lady and, first of all, proclaiming her to be full of grace and then telling her that she was going to be the Mother of the Son of God, the Mother of God Himself. When she asks how this is going to be possible, the angel says to her: "The Holy Spirit will overshadow you." And so with all of this knowledge, Mary says, "I am the handmaiden of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word." The most humble creature that God ever created is willing to do the most exalted thing that any creature has ever been asked to do.
Now we would naturally think of such humiliation and exaltation as being two contrary notions, but in Our Lady we see that they are one and the same. It is because of her humility that she is able to have such exaltation. It simply reiterates what Our Lord teaches elsewhere: that those who humble themselves will be exalted, whereas those who exalt themselves will be humbled.
Even more than the humility of Our Blessed Lady, we celebrate the humility of Our Lord today as well: the fact that He is God from all eternity and He is willing to take on a created nature, that He is willing to become the firstborn of all creation. The One who created us becomes created in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary - this is a mystery which we will ponder for the rest of eternity and never come to the end because we will never grasp it fully. And we will be able, not only to ponder the mystery of the Incarnation, but to ponder the beautiful woman in whom the Incarnation took place, and to know that because of her proximity to God and the exaltation which He has bestowed upon her that we will never come to the end of her glory either. She is not infinite as God is, but she is so far beyond where we are that we will never grasp her completely. Even in her creatureliness, we will never be able to grasp her fully.
For ourselves, we need to learn from Our Lady. We see Ahaz in the first reading, for instance, in his suddenly newfound piety (arrogant being that he was), saying, "Oh, no, no, no. I wonít tempt the Lord." That is what he spent his entire life doing, but suddenly when he is asked to do something from the Lord, he does not want anything to do with it. It is his pride that does not allow him to humble himself enough to do what God is asking. We all suffer with pride in a rather immense measure. Yet God asks of us certain tasks and each one of us needs to be humble enough to say with Our Lady, "Be it done unto me according to Thy word." - Not "Iíve got a better idea." - Not "I thought it was supposed to be this way." - Not "Let me see if I can understand it. Let me get a grasp on this fully before I can say yes." But rather, with Our Lady, to not understand exactly what it is going to be and what it is going to entail. She knew, of course, what was going to happen with her Son, but she was still willing to say yes. She did not understand fully how it was all going to be worked out; still, she was willing to say yes because she knew it was the Lord who was asking her.
So too for us, we need simply to go to the Lord. We need to humble ourselves and ask Him what He wants from each one of us and then be willing, with Our Lady, to say yes - no matter what it is. "Be it done unto me according to Thy word."
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.