March 25 – Annunciation B.V.M.
Today our Lenten observance is interrupted in order to make known to us something of the greater Plan of God for our salvation. For the past five weeks God has been calling us to repent – to change our ways – to open our hearts in a new way to accept the Love of God as manifested in His own beloved Son. Truly, as St John tells us, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son for our salvation. And today God reveals the beginnings of this plan to us.
He reveals His Plan to a simple maiden, and yet she is much more than that. It is she who has besought God that the promised Savior might come quickly. She, more than any other creature, has manifested the intensity of her desire for the coming of the Savior. In fact, her desire has been so intense that it has moved God Himself to hasten this coming. And in so doing, she shows us also how we are to best respond to this Lenten season – how we are to efficaciously open ourselves to this coming of our God.
Thomas Merton has said numerous times that the most important element of the spiritual life is desire. Mary has shown to us the efficacy of desire – for it was through her desire that God has opened the heavens and sent to us our Savior.
But God’s Plan is for more than a single coming of His Son. God’s Plan is to make all peoples into His own sons and daughters by becoming conformed to His beloved Son. The intense desire of Jesus Himself was that we might all be one, just as He is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit: and in order to realize that, He is willing even to lay down His own life in order that we might find life.
Here again, it is the intensity of Jesus’ own desire that ensures salvation for all of us. But in order for that desire of Jesus to be realized, it must be made one with our desire. All our desires must be made conformed to those of Jesus Himself. In order to accomplish this, our hearts must be made conformed to Mary in her response of “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, Be it done to me according to your will” and likewise to the heart of Jesus who expresses His desire to share this Pasch with us. This is precisely why St Benedict could make the vow of obedience so important, for it is there that we unite our will with the will of Christ and the Will of the Father and so bring about that mystery of salvation for all peoples of all times.
St Augustine has said: “You have made our hearts for you, and we remain restless until we rest in you”. This restlessness is that of our desires which seek for life for ourselves and for all peoples. And Jesus has assured us that if our desires remain like those of Mary, then we are assured of finding life for ourselves and for all peoples. Like Jesus in our second reading today, we can say to the Father: “Behold I come to do your will” – that will which is for the salvation of all peoples of all times.
Jesus Christ gives Himself to us today in this very Eucharist in order to reside in us as truly as He resided in the womb of Mary in order to truly bring all things into one in His Love.