Homily for March 25, Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to Your word.” With these words, Mary gives her consent to becoming the Mother of the Son of God. It is one of the most important moments in all of history. Jesus was truly present in Mary’s womb from this moment on, even though He would not be seen by human eyes until His birth at Christmas. What amazing love of God, that He chose to become a man like us in all things but sin, starting His life on earth as a single, microscopic, fragile cell!
By accepting God’s plan, Mary was receiving an incredible gift, and playing a vital role in God’s plan to save the human race from sin. At the same time, she was putting herself in a very difficult situation. She was already entering into marriage with Joseph, who would have a hard time understanding her pregnancy. She had to trust that God would protect her from being denounced and stoned to death as an adulteress, as would be her fate if Joseph rejected her publicly; if he divorced her quietly, as he considered doing, she would have to find a way to care for her Son on her own. Even assuming that St Joseph accepted the child as coming from God – as he eventually did – her family and friends, and everyone in her small town, would be talking about how she had gotten pregnant before she was even living with Joseph. But because she had faith, she was willing to accept all these risks and costs in order to give life to the Messiah – and because she did, humankind received the greatest gift of all history, and the world changed forever.
The fact that God was present in Mary’s womb right from the moment of conception, should lead us naturally to reflect on the value of every newly conceived life. For this reason, today is celebrated in many places as the “International Day of the Unborn Child”. It reminds us that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God, and is a gift that needs to be protected and cherished. Sadly, some children are conceived in difficult circumstances, and abortion is sometimes seen as the solution. Abortion never is a good solution; on the contrary, it harms everyone involved. We need to help people in our society to recognize the great value and potential of every human life, even if that life will be lived in less than ideal conditions. We should never put limits on God’s providence; He can bring good out of even the worst circumstances, and gives redemptive value to human suffering when it is born with faith, hope and love.
Today, as we celebrate the day when God became man, conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, let us pray that every life will be cherished and respected as a gift, from the very moment of conception onwards. We can never foresee what blessings God wants to give to the world through our children. May God grant every pregnant woman the on-going love and support she needs to choose life, and to give her child a healthy, nourishing, happy home.