Today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation. Since it is a solemnity, all Lenten disciplines are suspended. We are to celebrate today. It is providential that in the midst of all the Lenten discipline, there is a day that calls for celebration. And indeed, this is a day we celebrate because we remember the Son of God pierces the darkness and destruction of creation caused by sin, to redeem it by bringing light and life.
This is clearly proclaimed in the first reading where Ahaz was surrounded by Israel and Syria. Jerusalem was surrounded by her enemies and there was no escape. The Prophet Isaiah came to the king and tells him not to be afraid because these kings will not succeed. Isaiah tells Ahaz to ask for a sign, but Ahaz refuses. Then God himself gave Ahaz a sign, that a virgin will conceive and bear a son and will call him Emmanuel, meaning, God with us. In the midst of defeat and in the face of death, God is with us, because God is faithful. This promise of God’s presence is made visible when the Son of God himself enters creation to the womb of Mary.
He enters quietly, unseen, yet he is present in Mary’s womb. He is hidden, yet, he is present. In the current situation, where there is uncertainty, death, fear and destruction, we are confident that God is with us. God being with us, is not the result of what we do. It is not the result of our prayers or good works. In fact, the Son of God enters the world precisely because it is broken. The Son of God did this, not because he was forced to do this, but because ever since the beginning, he has been emptying himself to the Father who continually empties himself to the Son. This emptying of the Son to the Father is his total submission to the Father, his delight to do his will, as the Responsorial Psalm.
The Second Reading tells us, the Son of Man voluntarily takes on flesh to offer himself as a sacrifice for our sins. He became man so we can be restored to our original state, as adopted children of God. It is by the death of Jesus, his sacrifice on the cross, that we are sanctified and redeemed. This is what delights the Father.
This will not be possible without the consent of a virgin in Nazareth, who, like the Son of God, emptied herself, totally surrendered herself to the will of the Father. This total surrender allowed to God, allowed the Spirit of God to overshadow her so she can conceive the Son of God. Her response: Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word. These words completes God’s plan of salvation! This is why we rejoice in the midst of Lent, because the Lord is with us.
With this pandemic, many are sick, many have lost jobs, many have died. We suffer because of this. Yet, in the midst of the suffering, we rejoice, because we know, our God is with us! We know, he wants us to have the fullness of life. He has shown this by sending his Son in the Person of Jesus, fully God and fully human, someone as 1 John 1:1 tells us, someone we can hear, we can see, we can observe, we can touch.
This is Jesus, the only One who can save us. He calls us to come to him. Do not be afraid. He desires not your death, but he desires to give you fullness of life. The only way is to surrender your life to him. Our lives and society may be in chaos. We may have lost what is valuable to us. We may not see any light at the end of the tunnel. But there is always hope when we come to Jesus. These things may continue. We will still be in the midst of suffering, but when we invite Jesus to enter our lives, we are confident that God is with us.
This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24)