Gospel in Art: Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord

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The Annunciation, from the Illuminated Book of Hours, France, Paris © The Morgan Library, New York

Source: Christian art

Gospel of March 25, 2022 – Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He entered and said to her, “Rejoice, so highly favored! The Lord is with you. She was deeply troubled by these words and wondered what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her: “Mary, do not be afraid; you have won the favor of God. To listen! You must conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and his reign will have no end. Mary said to the angel: “But how can this happen, since I am a virgin? “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,” replied the angel, “and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. And so the child will be holy and will be called the Son of God. Also know this: your relative Elisabeth has herself, in her old age, conceived a son, and the one who was called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible with God. “I am the handmaid of the Lord, said Mary, let what you have said be done to me. And the angel left her.

Reflection on the page of the illuminated manuscript

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord, exactly nine months before Christmas. We know that Mary was very young when she was asked the question of being the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of God. Imagine being asked such a question at a young age. But therein lies the beauty of today’s feast: in her youth, her littleness, she accepted the call in joyful love. It seems that all of humanity has been waiting for this young girl’s consent. And she said yes!

So the greatest love story begins with today’s party. God loves our world so much that he sent his Son. And each time we pray, we are fully part of this wonderful love story, knowing that God can guide every detail of our own lives.

Our beautiful French illuminated manuscript page from around 1420 depicts Our Lady under a vaulted arch. Golden rays emanate from God the Father in the upper left, descending on Mary through the dove which represents the Holy Spirit. Archangel Gabriel, holds a scroll inscribed AVE GRACIA PLENA DOMINUS TECUM (Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you). Our Lady has a graceful pose, veiled, kneeling, her hands crossed on her chest. Behind her on the altar is an open book: the fulfillment of Scripture is truly on the way now. Our Lady is also depicted in a storehouse below where she is seated on a bench in front of a loom, holding a shuttle in her right hand, in a garden planted with two trees.

In her response to God’s call, Mary simply said yes… to let God be God.

This evening, around 6:30 p.m., Rome time, the Holy Father will perform a solemn act of consecration of humanity, and of Russia and Ukraine in particular, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. You can read the Holy Father’s Consecration Prayer in full below:

act of consecration

to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Saint Peter’s basilica

March 25, 2022

O Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, in this time of trial we turn to you. As our Mother, you love us and know us: no concern of our heart is hidden from you. Mother of mercy, how many times have we known your concern and your peaceful presence! You continue to guide us to Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

Yet we have strayed from this path of peace. We have forgotten the lesson learned from the tragedies of the last century, the sacrifice of the millions of people who fell in the two world wars. We ignored the commitments we made as a community of nations. We have betrayed the peoples’ dreams of peace and the hopes of young people. We have become sick with greed, we have thought only of our own nations and their interests, we have become indifferent and caught up in our selfish needs and concerns. We have chosen to ignore God, settle for our illusions, become arrogant and aggressive, take away innocent lives and stockpile weapons. We have ceased to be our neighbour’s keepers and stewards of our common home. We have ravaged the garden of the earth with warfare and with our sins we have broken the heart of our Heavenly Father, who wants us to be brothers and sisters. We have become indifferent to everyone and everything except ourselves. Now, with shame, we cry: Forgive us, Lord!

Holy Mother, in the midst of the misery of our sin, in the midst of our struggles and our weaknesses, in the midst of the mystery of iniquity which is evil and war, you remind us that God never abandons us, but continues to look at us with love, always ready to forgive us and raise us to new life. He gave you to us and made your Immaculate Heart a refuge for the Church and for all humanity. By the gracious will of God, you are always with us; even in the most troubled times of our history, you are there to guide us with tender love.

We now turn to you and knock on the door of your heart. We are your beloved children. In each era, you make yourself known to us, calling us to conversion. In this dark hour, help us and grant us your comfort. Tell us once again: “Am I not here, I who am your Mother? You are capable of untying the knots of our hearts and of our times. In you we place our trust. We are convinced that, especially in times of trial, you will not be deaf to our pleas and that you will come to our aid.

This is what you did at Cana in Galilee, when you interceded with Jesus and he performed the first of his signs. To preserve the joy of the wedding, you said to him: “They have no wine” (Jn 2, 3). Now, O Mother, repeat these words and this prayer, for in our days we have exhausted the wine of hope, joy has fled, brotherhood has faded. We have forgotten our humanity and wasted the gift of peace. We have opened our hearts to violence and destructiveness. How we need your maternal help!

Therefore, O Mother, hear our prayer.

Star of the sea, let us not be shipwrecked in the storm of war.

Ark of the New Covenant, inspires projects and paths of reconciliation.

Queen of Heaven, restore the peace of God to the world.

Eliminate hatred and the thirst for revenge and teach us forgiveness.

Free us from war, protect our world from the threat of nuclear weapons.

Queen of the Rosary, make us aware of our need to pray and to love.

Queen of the Human Family, show people the way to brotherhood.

Queen of Peace, obtain peace for our world.

O Mother, may your painful call stir our hardened hearts. May the tears you shed for us make this valley dried up by our hatred bloom again. In the midst of the thunder of arms, may your prayer turn our thoughts to peace. May your maternal touch soothe those who suffer and flee the rain of bombs. May your maternal embrace comfort those who are forced to leave their homes and their native land. May your Sorrowful Heart move us with compassion and inspire us to open our doors and care for our wounded and alienated brothers and sisters.

Holy Mother of God, while you were standing under the cross, Jesus, seeing the disciple at your side, said: “Here is your son” (Jn 19:26). This is how he entrusted each of us to you. To the disciple, and to each one of us, he says: “Behold your Mother” (v. 27). Mother Mary, we now wish to welcome you into our lives and our history. At this hour, a weary and distraught humanity stands with you under the cross, needing to confide in you and, through you, to consecrate themselves to Christ. The peoples of Ukraine and Russia, who venerate you with great love, turn to you now, even as your heart beats with compassion for them and for all those peoples decimated by war, hunger, injustice and poverty.

Therefore, Mother of God and our Mother, to your Immaculate Heart we entrust and solemnly consecrate ourselves, together with the Church and all humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine. Accept this act that we perform with trust and love. Make war end and peace spread in the world. The “Fiat” that came out of your heart opened the doors of history to the Prince of Peace. We hope that, through your heart, peace will rise once again. To you we dedicate the future of the whole human family, the needs and expectations of each people, the anxieties and hopes of the world.

Through your intercession, may the mercy of God pour out on earth and may the gentle rhythm of peace return to mark our days. Our Lady of “Fiat”, on whom the Holy Spirit descended, restore among us the harmony that comes from God. May you, our “living fountain of hope”, water the dryness of our hearts. In your bosom Jesus took flesh; help us to make communion grow. You once walked the streets of our world; lead us now on the paths of peace. Amen.

CONNECTIONS

Today’s story – https://christian.art/en/daily-gospel-reading/1123
Christian art – www.christian.art

Key words: Christian art, Patrick van der Vorst

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