CATHOLIC HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF ANNUNCIATION
THEME: HAIL MARY, FULL OF GRACE!
BY: Fr. Benedict Agbo
HOMILY: * Is 7 : 10 – 14 ; 8 : 10, Heb 10 : 4 – 10, Lk 1 : 26 – 38.
Today we celebrate the most important embassy God established in the world. Over 2500 years ago, it was prophesied that ‘A virgin shall conceive and bear a son who will be called EMMANUEL’, Is 7 : 14. What is unique about this prophesy is not the virginity before marriage but the virginity before, during and after her birth. Ordinarily, virgins lose their virginity before conception but in this one singular case, it was not gonno be business as usual. Today, the Church celebrates the fulfilment of that great prophesy 9 months before every Christmas in the feast of the ANNUNCIATION.
What strikes me is the profundity of both the message and the response to it. The greeting of the angel carries a revelation about a special empowerment : She is full of grace and the Holy Spirit was going to overshadow her. Her response also carries a revelation of a special disposition of faith that is second to none in the history of Divine – human relationship. Not even Abraham’s faith surpasses Mary’s FIAT – a sublime expression of faith and humility : ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, Be it done to me according to your word’, Lk 1 : 38. No wonder why these lines have been adopted as part of the ANGELUS prayer for Catholics because of their paradigmatic meaning and content.
In New testament theology, according to the great Archbishop Fulton J Sheen, the era of ritual sacrifice has given way to the era of obedience. Even when the priest stands in the altar of sacrifice, he is more intrinsically connected with Jesus’ own sacrifice both as object and subject of sacrifice. This is ‘the victimhood concept of the new testament priesthood’ which relates to not only the celibate ministerial priesthood but to all who belong to the universal priesthood of the faithful, 1 Pet 2 : 9. This is the real import of this NT statement : ‘You take no pleasure in sacrifices… but instead you have given me a body… And with this body I say … HERE I AM, I COME TO DO YOUR WILL’, Heb 10 : 4 – 10. Mary is our ambassador in this new realm of spirituality.
Submission and sacrifice is deficient in modern day Christianity. Abraham was our mentor in faith because he was our mentor in submission and sacrifice. He gave his tithe offering to the priest Melkizedek who himself was also a symbol of victimhood, Gen 14 : 17 – 24. Today, many priests will want the tithe without the requisite submission and sacrifice. Tithe goes beyond the priests’ needs to the collective needs of the whole Church, Mal 3 : 1 – 11. That is why Jesus went beyond it to praise the 100% offering of the widow’s mite, Lk 21 : 1 – 4. Mary is our ambassador in this virtue of submission and sacrifice. May we Christians join her in this submissiveness, this purity, this virginity, this ‘celibacy’ and this humility so that God’s plan will be fulfilled in our lives. I am opportuned to be born on this great day 50 years ago. So, thank with me for his favours and join me in this hymn/ prayer asking God to make me holy like my blessed mother Mary : LORD GOD, IN THE SIMPLICITY OF MY HEART, I HAVE JOYOUSLY OFFERED ALL THINGS TO YOU MY GOD.
Happy feast day of our Lady!
FR BEN AGBO
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