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Monday, March 24, 2014

The Forgotten Annunciation

by Susan Fox

“The Lord spoke to Nathan and said: “Go tell my servant David, “When your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm. It is he who shall build a house for my name. And I will make his royal throne firm forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.” (2Samuel 7: 4-16)

The blind man Bartimaeus was sitting by the roadside begging. “When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47)

March 19, 2014 -- God so loved the world He gave His only Son. (John 3:16) And the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:14)

Wait. Wasn’t there something in the middle I forgot?

Oh yes, how did Jesus come into the world?

Jesus was born into a human family descended from a line of Jewish kings. A lowly Virgin from Nazareth, betrothed to a man named Joseph, became the mother of Jesus. She cooperated in Christ’s conception through motherhood. King David, himself is her ancestor, whose throne God promised would stand firm forever.
And so Mary receives the news from an angel ... it wasn’t any stray angel; it was an angel with a purpose -- the Angel Gabriel, whose name means “God is my strength.”
The Annunciation to Mary
He was sent by God to bring Mary the good news: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:31-33)

God invited Mary to become the mother of His Son, and then waited for her answer. 

She responds to the angel, “I know who I am.” (Such will determine her choice.)  “I am the Handmaid (Servant) of the Lord. Be it done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

Let’s try it again from the top.

God so loved the world He gave His only Son. (God initiates the giving of His Son)
“Be is done to me according to your word.” (Mary accepts God’s will)
And the Word became Flesh (Jesus is Incarnate).... Wait I missed something there in the middle.

There’s a second Annunciation -- the one that is always forgotten. Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila brought this to my attention on Wednesday night at a Mass celebrating the Feast of St. Joseph.  Mary was betrothed to a man named Joseph – a direct descendant of the Royal Line of David. God had told David that He Himself would be as a Father to David’s heir, and “Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.”

So Mary said her great “Yes!” to God, but then Mary was found with child before she came to live with her husband Joseph. He thought to divorce her quietly.

That was his human plan because Joseph was a righteous man, faithful to the law, but he didn’t want Mary to suffer shame. This was the future earthly father of Jesus, Who one day would be faced with a similar dilemma when a woman caught in adultery is brought to Him for stoning.
Jesus and the Woman Caught in Adultery

Stoning was the penalty for adultery. Such was the Jewish law. But Jesus simply said, “Let him who is without sin throw the first stone.” And all the woman’s accusers melted away. How safe that woman must have felt in Jesus’ Presence. Without any humiliation, she repented of her sin, and Jesus sent her away with the admonition, “Sin no more.” Jesus must have been conscious of the fact that His mother had faced that same vulnerability at one time. But Joseph chose to take her into his home. How safe Mary must have felt under Joseph’s protection.

How interesting that even in the unusual circumstances of the “Virgin shall be with Child,” God still wanted a man and a woman to make a family with a Child. I grew up in a fatherless household, so I am well familiar with the difficulty of a woman raising a child alone. But it can be done.

Yet God planned that every child have a father and a mother bonded in married love. God could not deny His own identity. Even in the making of His own earthly family, God remained true to the nuptial meaning of the human body, which He designed in His Image. He gave Mary physical motherhood. But He invited Joseph to participate in His own Fatherhood.

“Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’” (Matt 19:4-6)
The Annunciation of St. Joseph

This is Joseph’s Annunciation. God sent an angel to Joseph in a dream, who said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:20-21)

When Joseph woke up he did exactly as the angel had instructed and took his wife into his home.

Okay, let’s try it again from the top.

The Father initiates action: God so loved the world He gave His only Son.
Mary cooperates: “Be it done to me according to your word.”
Gabriel explains how: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)
Jesus is conceived: And the Word was made Flesh...
Joseph cooperates in God’s plan: “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” (Matt 1:24)

And the Word was made flesh. He is Jesus, Son of David, whose throne will last forever. He dwelt among us in safety and security from the moment of His conception until Joseph’s natural death thanks to the obedience of his foster father, Joseph, according to Archbishop Aquila.

There were two angelic annunciations to two human beings, Mary and Joseph. Both were told how this divine conception took place (by the power of the Holy Spirit). Both were told His name, Jesus. Joseph was addressed as the son of David, and Mary was told that her Son, Jesus, would have the throne of David. Both – male and female -- responded with a resounding, “Yes!”  And so the Holy Family was conceived – first in the mind of God, and then with the surprised cooperation of two human beings who never planned on spending their lives together raising the Son of God.

Mary and Joseph had another mutual ancestor. His name was Abraham. God had promised him that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. This was a startling promise because Abraham’s wife Sarah was barren. Finally in his old age, she gave birth to Isaiah. Abraham is famous for his belief that God’s promise to him would be fulfilled, as is Mary -- not coincidentally.

“It was not through the law that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants that he would inherit the world, but through the righteousness that comes from faith.” (Romans 4:13)

“He believed, hoping against hope, that he would become the father of many nations, according to what was said. Thus shall your descendants be. That is why it is credited to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:18, 22)

Mary and Joseph both obeyed God through the same righteousness they shared with Abraham, the archbishop said. “We live in challenging times. Faith is not a static gift. Despite trials and attacks on Christian Faith and on religious freedom, we must trust as Joseph and Mary trusted.”
Archbishop Samuel Aquila
offers Mass at Holy Ghost
Catholic Church,
Denver, CO
on March 19, 2014
“See how faithful Joseph is. He sees the truth in his dream. He sees that the Holy Spirit placed this Child in Mary’s womb. He is given the honor of naming the child,” Archbishop Aquila said, “His name shall be Jesus because He will save his people from their sins.”

 “We must continue to pray for faith,” the archbishop said, arguing that Catholics will be able to speak the truth in these difficult times if we imitate the faith of Joseph and Mary.

We recognize that Mary is our mother because when her Son, Jesus, was dying ignominiously on the cross, He said to his disciple John, “Behold your Mother.” And from that point forward, John took Mary into his home.

But John’s actions were just a repeat of those of Joseph. Not Jesus, but God the Father Himself instructed Joseph to take Mary into his home. And Our Lady continued to believe that God’s promises to her would be fulfilled even as her Son died. She knew the throne of Jesus, Son of David, would remain firm forever. And it has. He reigns at Daily Mass in every Catholic Church in the world. And in the hearts of many people.

Listen to your God! Welcome Mary into your lives! Everything good comes from taking Mary into your home. 
The Holy Family:
Mary, Jesus & Joseph

1 comment:

  1. What a great post! We easily forget the fidelity of St. Joseph to Jesus and Mary.