“Behold, a virgin shall conceive.”
A reading from the Book of Isaiah 7:10-14; 8: 10
In those days: The Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Take counsel together, but it will come to naught; speak a word, but it will not stand, for God is with us.
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Ps 40:7-8a.8b-9.10. 11 (R. cf. 8a.9a)
R/. See, I have come, Lord, to do your will.
You delight not in sacrifice and offerings,
but in an open ear.
You do not ask for holocaust and victim.
Then I said, “See, I have come.” R/.
In the scroll of the book it stands written of me:
“I delight to do your will, O my God;
your instruction lies deep within me.” R/.
R/. See, I have come, Lord, to do your will.
Your justice I have proclaimed
in the great assembly.
My lips I have not sealed;
you know it, O Lord. R/.
Your saving help I have not hidden in my heart;
of your faithfulness and salvation I have spoken.
I made no secret of your merciful love
and your faithfulness to the great assembly. R/.
“I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the roll of the book.”
A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 10:4- 10)
Brethren: It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,’ as it is written of me in the roll of the book.” When he said above “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
The word of the Lord.
VERSE BEFORE GOSPEL John 1:14ab
Glory and praise to you, O Christ. The word became flesh and dwelt among us; and we have beheld his glory. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.
“You will conceive in your womb and bear a son.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke1:26-38
At that time: The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I know not man?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Today is March 25. It is exactly 9 months before Christmas. On this day, Mary gave her consent, her fiat, her “I do” to God’s Divine Proposal. On this day, that great miracle happened; through the powerful overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, the baby Jesus, the word of God became flesh right inside her womb.
The feast of the Annunciation is also the feast of the conception of Jesus. While we pay attention to Mary’s acceptance of God’s proposal, we also ponder on how God himself agreed to take on human flesh; the Creator taking the form of his creature. Today’s feast is a reminder that God does not force his way in our lives. He works in us only with our consent. As one Saint said, God created us without our consent but He will not save us without our consent. We always have a choice either to say “Yes” or “No” to God’s plans for our lives.
It is not easy to say ‘Yes’ all the time to God. It takes a great deal of will power to inconvenience ourselves, drop our plans, forgo our own pleasures and desires and say “Yes” just like Mary. Our “Yes” is our offering, it is a sacrifice to God. The book of Hebrews says: “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, burnt offerings and sin offerings you take no pleasure but Behold, I have come to do your will.” Accepting to God’s will instead of ours makes God happy.
Like a young man desiring to marry a woman, God came to Mary through Angel Gabriel to propose to her: “You shall conceive in your womb and bear a Son and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.” How happy God must have been when Mary said “Let it be done!” Her “Yes” became the beginning of the fulfilment of God’s promises to the people of Israel which the prophets all spoke about. As Isaiah prophesied, when a virgin conceives, then you shall know that your Redeemer has come. Mary is that Virgin Isaiah spoke of as a sign to the people of Israel that God has finally sent them the Saviour they have been expecting.
Today’s feast is also a clear reminder to us that life in the womb does not begin after the baby is born but at the very minute of conception. Mary’s stomach was still very flat but when she went to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth, John the Baptist leaped in Elizabeth’s womb in salutation to Jesus whose presence he already felt inside Mary’s womb.
Dear Friends, as we celebrate today, let us respect life. Under no circumstance is it ever right to terminate the unborn because the fetus is not just a potential human being but a complete human being with great potentials. Above all, let us always learn from Mary to say ‘Yes’ to God so that his plans for our lives will be manifested. Each time we commit a sin, we are saying ‘No’ to God and further pulling ourselves away from the life God planned out for us. We are all bundles of potentials, but none of these would be realized if we don’t learn to say ‘Yes’ to God.