Monday April 4, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Feast of the Annunciation (Observed)
Reading I (Isaiah 7:10-14) Reading II (Hebrews 10:4-10)
Gospel (St. Luke 1:26-38)
As we celebrate today the Feast of the Annunciation, it is really the celebration of the Incarnation of Christ. So many people mistakenly think that the Incarnation took place on Christmas. It did not; it took place on the 25th of March. Now we are celebrating it today because the 25th of March fell during Holy Week, and so the Church transferred the feast to today. However, the Feast of the Annunciation is the day that Our Lord became flesh in the womb of His mother. As we heard the angel coming to our Blessed Lady and asking her if she would be willing to be the Mother of God, thanks be to God for Our Lady’s fiat: Let it be done to me according to thy word. It was in this that Our Lord became man.
He Who is God from all eternity, He Who is a Divine Person, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, humbled Himself and condescended to become one of us, to take our human nature to Himself. Not to become a human person, because He did not; He became a human being but not a human person. He is a Divine Person and He can only be one person. Therefore, since He is a Divine Person from all eternity, that did not change. What He did was to take a human nature to Himself. That means He took a human body that had human blood and a human soul. He did not take a human personality; He had His Divine personality. And so His Divinity was then united by a humanity, and the two in a substantial manner – the humanity and the Divinity of Christ – make up the perfect union of one Person. He is not two persons; He is one Person.
But in the Incarnation, He then has a Divine mind and He has a human mind. He has a Divine will and He has a human will. Two minds and two wills, but only one Person. So He can operate as God and He can operate as man. And in the perfection of the union of one Person, these two natures did not interfere with one another at all. They remained completely separate and unimpaired; they did not in any way interfere with one another’s working. But He was able, as only God could, to operate on two different levels in the perfect unity of one single Person. That is what we celebrate today: the feast of God becoming man, the feast of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ at the Annunciation.
And thanks be to God for our Blessed Lady, who, even though it did not make sense to her how she could conceive as a virgin, was willing to say “yes” so that the Holy Spirit, Who proceeds from the Father and the Son, would have an opportunity to become life-giving in our Blessed Lady, so that the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, from Whom the Holy Spirit proceeds, would now be conceived in the womb of Our Lady through the power of the Holy Spirit.
This is an astounding thing, and it is something which we will meditate upon for the rest of eternity, assuming that we go the right direction. There will be no end to the meditation on the Incarnation because it is an absolute mystery, one which we will never be able to understand even in heaven. We can grasp parts of it, but because it deals with the Divine nature itself, we will never come to the end of it. The wonderful part, if you just want to ponder this one for awhile, is that even in His humanity Jesus does not understand the Incarnation perfectly. In His Divinity, He does; in His humanity, He does not. And so for all eternity, because it is an infinite mystery and His human nature is finite, He too will ponder this mystery of the Incarnation in His human nature, in His human mind, and will never understand it completely. In His Divinity, of course, He understands it fully and perfectly. So, for all eternity, we will be able to look at Jesus and we will never come to the end. There will always be more.
We can start now to place ourselves in front of the Blessed Sacrament, to look at Him Who is both God and man, and to meditate upon this mystery of our salvation, that mystery which began in the most full way at the moment of the Annunciation, when, thanks be to God, the grace was given to Our Lady to accept the humility of God and to say “yes” so that He would be conceived in her womb and we would be saved.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.