Posted March 25, 2015 4:00 AM by

All generations shall call Mary blessed —here is why…

 

(CUSA) – Mary said yes to her divine calling. She was a free woman who made a free choice. Today we celebrate the Annunciation which memorializes the offer from God through the Angel Gabriel and her acceptance.

 

In March of the Jubilee Year 2000, Blessed John Paul II was in Nazareth and preached this homily at the Basilica of the Annunciation comparing the faith of Abraham and Mary.

 

They both received promises and both were fulfilled. Importantly, they were both unexpected and disrupted their otherwise normal lives. Accepting these promises requires faith! Fittingly, John Paul asks the assistance of the Holy Family in protecting life and human dignity.  —Ed.

 

 

HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
MASS IN THE BASILICA OF THE ANNUNCIATION
Israel – Nazareth
Saturday, 25 March 2000

 

Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to your word.

 

Your Beatitude, Brother Bishops, Father Custos,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

 

25th March in the year 2000, the Solemnity of the Annunciation in the Year of the Great Jubilee: on this day the eyes of the whole Church turn to Nazareth. I have longed to come back to the town of Jesus, to feel once again, in contact with this place, the presence of the woman of whom Saint Augustine wrote: “He chose the mother he had created; he created the mother he had chosen.”

 

Here it is especially easy to understand why all generations call Mary blessed.

 

I warmly greet Your Beatitude Patriarch Michel Sabbah, and thank you for your kind words of presentation. With Archbishop Boutros Mouallem and all of you – Bishops, priests, religious women and men, and members of the laity – I rejoice in the grace of this solemn celebration.

 

I am happy to have this opportunity to greet the Franciscan Minister General, Father Giacomo Bini, who welcomed me on my arrival, and to express to the Custos, Father Giovanni Battistelli, and the Friars of the Custody the admiration of the whole Church for the devotion with which you carry out your unique vocation.

 

With gratitude I pay tribute to your faithfulness to the charge given to you by Saint Francis himself and confirmed by the Popes down the centuries.

 

We are gathered to celebrate the great mystery accomplished here two thousand years ago. The Evangelist Luke situates the event clearly in time and place: “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph. . . The virgin’s name was Mary.”

 

But in order to understand what took place in Nazareth two thousand years ago, we must return to the Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews. That text enables us, as it were, to listen to a conversation between the Father and the Son concerning God’s purpose from all eternity.

 

“You who wanted no sacrifice or oblation prepared a body for me. You took no pleasure in holocausts or sacrifices for sin. Then I said. . . ?God, here I am! I am coming to obey your will.'”

 

The Letter to the Hebrews is telling us that, in obedience to the Father’s will, the Eternal Word comes among us to offer the sacrifice which surpasses all the sacrifices offered under the former Covenant. His is the eternal and perfect sacrifice which redeems the world.

 

The divine plan is gradually revealed in the Old Testament, particularly in the words of the Prophet Isaiah which we have just heard: “The Lord himself will give you a sign. It is this: the virgin is with child and will soon give birth to a child whom she will call Emmanuel.”

 

Emmanuel – God with us. In these words, the unique event that was to take place in Nazareth in the fullness of time is foretold, and it is this event that we are celebrating here with intense joy and happiness.

 

Our Jubilee Pilgrimage has been a journey in spirit, which began in the footsteps of Abraham, “our father in faith.” That journey has brought us today to Nazareth, where we meet Mary, the truest daughter of Abraham.

 

It is Mary above all others who can teach us what it means to live the faith of “our father”. In many ways, Mary is clearly different from Abraham; but in deeper ways “the friend of God” and the young woman of Nazareth are very alike.

 

Both receive a wonderful promise from God. Abraham was to be the father of a son, from whom there would come a great nation. Mary is to be the Mother of a Son who would be the Messiah, the Anointed One. “Listen!”, Gabriel says, “ You are to conceive and bear a son. . . The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. . . and his reign will have no end.”

 

For both Abraham and Mary, the divine promise comes as something completely unexpected. God disrupts the daily course of their lives, overturning its settled rhythms and conventional expectations.

 

For both Abraham and Mary, the promise seems impossible. Abraham’s wife Sarah was barren, and Mary is not yet married: “How can this come about”, she asks, “since I am a virgin?”

 

Like Abraham, Mary is asked to say yes to something that has never happened before. Sarah is the first in the line of barren wives in the Bible who conceive by God’s power, just as Elizabeth will be the last. Gabriel speaks of Elizabeth to reassure Mary: “Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son.”

 

Like Abraham, Mary must walk through darkness, in which she must simply trust the One who called her. Yet even her question, “How can this come about?”, suggests that Mary is ready to say yes, despite her fears and uncertainties. Mary asks not whether the promise is possible, but only how it will be fulfilled.

 

It comes as no surprise, therefore, when finally she utters her fiat: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let what you have said be done to me.” With these words, Mary shows herself the true daughter of Abraham, and she becomes the Mother of Christ and Mother of all believers.

 

In order to penetrate further into the mystery, let us look back to the moment of Abraham’s journey when he received the promise. It was when he welcomed to his home three mysterious guests, and offered them the adoration due to God: tres vidit et unum adoravit.

 

CONTINUE>>>>

 

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