A Woman And Her Baby…

Part of the significance of the Feast of the Annunciation is lost this year as it is celebrated today. The usual date of commemoration is, of course, March 25 but that was Good Friday this year. Hardly an appropriate day to remember Luke’s account of the announcement to Mary by the angel Gabriel that she would “conceive and bear a son and call his name Jesus.” (Luke 1:31)!

The March 25 date was originally chosen, of course, because it is exactly nine months before the church’s celebration of Jesus’ birth on December 25 and, even though this feast often falls in the Lenten or Easter Seasons, it begins once again the annual cycle of Jesus’ conception, birth, life and death which will lead to his eventual resurrection.

This year the feast of the Annunciation was delayed even longer than usual because of the early date of Easter and the need to “transfer” the feast not only until after Holy Week, but until after the days of Easter Week which also take precedence.

Be all that as it may, this is an important feast day to remember. It sets Mary on her path toward being the mother of the Messiah. It symbolizes the cosmic nature of this birth and the fact that humanity and divinity would meet in a special way in the womb of this Jewish teenager. It even provides the first line of famous mantra-prayer, “Hail Mary,full of grace, the Lord is with you….” (Luke 1:28)

Whenever I keep this feast, I am reminded of words from one of my mentors, Dean Alan Jones, sometime Dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco. He highlighted three dominant images of our Christian faith — a woman (and her baby); a ruined man (on a cross); and a community of persons (the Holy Trinity). And then he said something like,

“Confronted with these images — a woman and her baby; a ruined man; and a community of persons — how then shall we live?” 

How then shall we live? How indeed! We must surely work to protect all women and their children. We must stand with the last and the least, the broken and the ruined of this world. And we must be part of that community of love which is an earthly expression of that community of love found in the Godhead itself, that community which Christians call Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That is how we at least begin to live.

And it all started with a woman and her baby…

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