ON THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN
Consider first, how the Angel Gabriel (Luke i. 26, &c.) ‘was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a Virgin, espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the Virgin’s name Mary. And the Angel being come in, said unto her, Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the Angel said to her, Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God: behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord shall give unto him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.’ Christians, give attention to this most sacred and most solemn embassage, sent from the King of heaven, not to any of the great ones or potentates of this world, but to a poor and humble maid, to treat with her upon the highest matters, even upon the great business of the Incarnation of the Son of God, the establishment of his everlasting kingdom, and the redemption and salvation of man. Admire and adore the depth of the wisdom of the ways of God, (so much exalted above the maxims and ways of the worldly wise,) by which he is pleased to bring about such great things, without noise or pomp, in so humble a manner, and by such humble instruments. And give thanks for that infinite goodness and love for us, which he has shown in the mystery of this day.
Consider 2ndly, the great lessons the blessed Virgin teaches us, by her whole comportment on this occasion. She is favoured with an embassage from God; she is greeted by one of the highest of the Angels, as full of divine grace; she is told that the Lord is with her, and that she is blessed among all women; and instead of being puffed up with these high favours, or taking any vain complacency in these titles and encomiums, she is troubled at the words of the Angel, and through the humble sentiments she has of herself, wonders what should be the meaning of such a salutation. She is assured by the Angel that she has found grace with God, and is chosen by him to conceive and bear the Saviour of the world, even the Son of the Most High; and so great is her love for virginal purity, that she is ready to forego the dignity of Mother of God, rather than part with her virginity. How shall this be done, (saith she,) because I know not man? being consecrated by vow to God, and determined to keep my vow. The Angel informs her, that she shall conceive by the Holy Ghost, and be over-shadowed by the power of the Most High, so as still to remain a pure maid. And then with a most profound humility, and a most perfect oblation of herself to God, and an entire conformity to his blessed will, she cries, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord! be it done to me according to thy word!’ Let us study well, and learn of her the practice of these great lessons of humility, love of purity, and perfect resignation of ourselves to the will of God.
Consider 3rdly, how as soon as the blessed Virgin had thus given her consent, she immediately conceived by the Holy Ghost, who by his almighty power, formed a body out of her purest blood, and created an immortal soul for that body; and this body and soul were in that instant assumed, and united to the eternal Word, the Son of God, the second person of the adorable Trinity. And thus we celebrate, in the Virgin’s womb, the sacred wedding of our human nature with the divine person of the Son of God, to the feast of which we are invited, Matt. xxii. – ‘Thus the Word was made Flesh, and dwelt amongst us,’ St. John i. 14. This great mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God is the original source of all our good; in making God man, it has made man God. The Son of God, by taking upon him our humanity, makes us partakers of his divinity. He comes to be our Saviour and our Redeemer, to deliver us from all our evils; he comes to be our advocate, and our physician; he comes to be our father and our friend; he comes to be our king and our priest, and to make us kings and priests to his Father. He stoops down to our dust, to raise us up from the dust, and to bring us to sit down with him on his throne, Apoc. iii. 21. See then, my soul, in what manner thou oughtest to celebrate this great festival of the conception of the Son of God! what homage and adoration, what praise and thanksgiving thou owest him for these wonders he has wrought in thy favour! what return of love for his love to thee! O welcome him at least to the best of thy power; and since he comes to dwell amongst us, beg he would accept of the lodging of thy heart.
Conclude to keep for ever in thy soul, a faithful, grateful, and loving remembrance of the mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God, and a sincere affection for his Virgin Mother; and with these dispositions, frequently in the day repeat the angelical salutation, more especially at the regular hours in the morning, noon, and night.