Consecrated through the Father’s Will and Christ’s Bodily Offering, Solemnity of the Annunciation, March 25, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Church of the Holy Family, New York, NY
Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
March 25, 2015
Is 7:10-14;8:10, Ps 40, Heb 10:4-10, Lk 1:26-38

 

Today’s homily was not recorded. The following points were considered: 

  • The Year of Consecrated Life that we are living in the Church is meant to influence every thing we do during this ecclesiastical Holy Year and the nature of consecration — both our baptismal consecration as well as the “more intimate consecration” lived by those in religious life, societies of apostolic life, secular institutes and as consecrated virgins, hermits and widows — provides an important prism to understand in a deep and new way the central mysteries of our faith. Today we can look at the nature of consecration through Christ’s consecration, Mary’s consecration and the consecration of every person from the womb.
  • In today’s reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, it tells us that Jesus Christ took flesh of the Blessed Virgin, he came into the world, not to offer sacrifices of bulls and goats to take away sins but himself in perfect obedience. “Behold, I come to do your will,” he said in his body language, and the Letter to the Hebrews tells us, “By this ‘will’ we have been consecrated through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once and for all.” Christ came into the world to consecrate himself to the Father so that we might enter into that consecration and find salvation and life. Jesus himself described this reality during the Last Supper when he prayed to his Father, “Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.” Christ came to consecrate us in the Father’s word and today we celebrate how that Word of the Father took flesh and dwelled among us. Through his consecration, Jesus was asking for us to be consecrated in him.
  • The first one to enter into that consecration is the Blessed Virgin Mary. I find it beautiful that today’s Responsorial Psalm Refrain, “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will,” which obviously refers to Jesus with the words that the Letter to the Hebrews applies to him in today’s second reading (Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not; then said I, “Behold I come… to do your will, O my God.”) likewise apply to Mary. In today’s Gospel, when the Archangel Gabriel came to her with the joyful news that she was by the power of the Holy Spirit to become the mother of the eternal Son of God, her response was, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” She recognized she was alive to live according to God’s word, to do his will, to offer herself to his service. That was a choice she was not making for the first time at the Annunciation but reiterating since she had already mysteriously made an act of consecrated virginity to God, otherwise her question “How can this be since I have no relations with a man?” would not make any sense, since she would have well-known how she would conceive a child if she were ever planning to have relations with St. Joseph. It was the fulfillment of the mystery announced in Isaiah that a virgin would be pregnant with a child whose name would be “God with us!” Mary entered into Christ’s consecration in coming into the world as she entered into the truth and gave the Word of God her flesh.
  • We’re all supposed to imitate Mary’s consecration within the consecration of her Son. That consecration is both an objective act on God’s part and a subjective response on ours. Jesus asks the Father to consecrate us in him — and that’s the first and most important aspect and moment of consecration — but it’s also something we must respond to. We see these truths in the consecration of baptism, when God gives us the gift of entrance into Jesus’ consecration — something we could never do on our own, and something that is accentuated by the fact that most of us receive this gift before we’re capable of making a moral choice. But we’re also called to order our life in response to that consecration by living the promises and reality of our baptism, something that those in consecrated life do by means of their more intimate entrance into Christ’s consecration through uniting themselves to him in his poverty, chastity and obedience.
  • But there’s even a prior gift of consecration in our very formation by God in the womb, something we can ponder in a special way in connection to Jesus’ consecration from the first moment of his existence in Mary’s womb. In the vocation story of Jeremiah, he says, “The word of the Lord came to me thus: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I consecrated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you” (Jer 1:5). There’s an aspect of that consecration that was unique to him, but another that was general to all of us. God doesn’t create us without a purpose. He creates us with this consecration to his glory in mind. He knows us before we even take on bodily existence and consecrates us in utero.
  • This is something beautiful and important to recall today as the Church celebrates the 20th anniversary of the publication Evangelium Vitae, the great encyclical on the Gospel of Life written by St. John Paul II. In it he says, “The life that parents transmit has its origins in God. We see this attested in the many biblical passages which respectfully and lovingly speak of conception, of the forming of life in the mother’s womb, of giving birth and of the intimate connection between the initial moment of life and the action of God the Creator. ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you’ (Jer 1:5): the life of every individual, from its very beginning, is part of God’s plan.” We’re all part of the plan or will of God and the will of God, as we ponder today with the help of the Letter to the Hebrews, is that we be consecrated to the Father through the offering of Christ once and for all. We are formed by God in view of that consecration from the first moment of our existence. Jesus in taking our nature assumed our nature into his consecration. Today is a day on which we thank God for that gift and ask for his grace that everyone may more appreciate the dignity of every person, called to exist in this relationship of consecration with God from the first moment of existence.
  • The way we nourish that sense of consecration so that we, too, may do the Lord’s will and let our whole life develop in accordance with God’s word, is here at Mass. Through the miracle of transubstantiation, Christ becomes present here in the body and blood he assumed from Mary, in his soul he received from the Father, in the divinity with which he is united with the Father and the Holy Spirit. As we consecrate bread and wine, Christ, the supreme consecrated one comes, to unite us to that consecration so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we may become one body, one spirit in him. There’s great fittingness that here in the Church of the Holy Family, the tabernacle is a miniature of the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, because just as in Nazareth where the Word became flesh and tabernacled himself among us, so here, too, he abides with us. The marble plaques on the sides of the tabernacle help us to ponder this mystery of Nazareth and the Tabernacle: Verbum Caro Factum Est and Et Habitavit in Nobis: The Word became flesh and dwelled among us. We worship here the same Jesus who tabernacled himself in Mary’s womb and who is about to tabernacle himself within each of us who worthily receive him. May we enter fully into his consecration, who today took on our flesh in other to do the Father’s will and save us through consecrating ourselves within his consecration, so that like him we may do the Father’s will and come to experience the presence of God-with-us here and forever.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 IS 7:10-14; 8:10

The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary people,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us!”

Responsorial Psalm PS 40:7-8A, 8B-9, 10, 11

R. (8a and 9a) Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Your justice I kept not hid within my heart;
your faithfulness and your salvation I have spoken of;
I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth
in the vast assembly.
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Reading 2 HEB 10:4-10

Brothers and sisters:
It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats
take away sins.
For this reason, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.
Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,
behold, I come to do your will, O God.’”

First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings,
holocausts and sin offerings,
you neither desired nor delighted in.”
These are offered according to the law.
Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.”
He takes away the first to establish the second.
By this “will,” we have been consecrated
through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Verse Before The Gospel JN 1:14AB

The Word of God became flesh and made his dwelling among us;
and we saw his glory.

Gospel LK 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

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