Mercy-With-Us, The Solemnity of the Annunciation, April 4, 2016

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
April 4, 2016
Is 7:10-14;8:10, Ps 40, Heb 10:4-10, Lk 1:26-38

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • The back-to-back succession of the Solemnities of Divine Mercy and the Incarnation of the Lord within the context of this extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy helps us to grasp deeply that when the eternal Son of God took on our flesh, he came as Mercy. As St. Faustina Kowalska wrote in her Diary, “The inconceivable miracle of Your mercy takes place, O Lord: The Word becomes flesh; God dwells among us, the Word of God, Mercy Incarnate.” The Sign that God would give Ahaz and the world was not just “God with us!,” literally Emmanuel, but Mercy-with-us, Em-man-u-hesed. When in the words of today’s Psalm, Jesus would eventually pray, “Sacrifice and oblation you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave him. Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not; then I said, ‘Behold I come,'” the obedience to which he was pointing, which was worth far more than the sacrifice of animals, was one of mercy. Jesus himself would say in the Gospel, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice!.” That’s the purpose for which he took on a body in the fulfillment of Ps 40 attested to by the Letter to the Hebrews: “When Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me.'” He took on our nature to offer it as a sacrifice of merciful love.
  • Beyond that, however, he wanted to incorporate us into that sacrifice. He took on our nature so that he could incorporate us into his sacrifice of mercy so that, as his Mystical Body, we might continue his work of mercy, his work of salvation, until the end of time. He wants us to offer ourselves, together with his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, to the Father in expitation for our and other’s sins. The Blessed Virgin Mary shows us the type of cooperation, the type of participation, he desires in the Gospel, when she gives a whole hearted fiat to God’s will of mercy. To call her “full of grace,” was to call her “full of God,” and since God is hesed, loving mercy, she was full of mercy preveniently and preventively from the first moment of her conception. She sang of God’s mercy in her Magnificat, reminding us that God has mercy on those who fear him in every generation and he remembers his promise of mercy to Abraham and our fathers in faith forever. Even though the modality by which we will be filled with God’s mercy is different than hers, God’s will is for us to become full of his forgiving love and to cooperate with his plan, singing and sharing his mercy, as Mary did.
  • There’s a particular beauty to the poem by Redemptorist Fr. Paul Duffy that Cardinal O’Connor, your founder, obsessively used to cite in all the retreats he’d preach for present and future Sisters of Life. Fr. Duffy said of Mary, “She was the Mother of the wandering Word,  Little and terrifying in her laboring womb. And nothing would again be casual and small. But everything with light invested, overspilled With terror and divinity.” We could say that Mary was the Mother of itinerant Mercy, leading him on his saving missions before he had even the tiniest of feat. And nothing again would be casual or small, but full of the light of his merciful love, something that would fill us with his divinity as it filled us with awe. These are the mysteries we celebrate in so many ways, in a particular way in every new human person made in the image and likeness of God, the image and likeness of Mercy incarnate.
  • Today you’ll all renew your consecration to the Blessed Virgin on this day in which she pronounced her own. Throughout the Novena that began on Holy Saturday, you asked Mary for a “deeper understanding of the mystery of faith, which reveals the Sacred Body of Christ, as the Divine Image in which every human life is created,” an “icon of the living God.” And today in your consecration you place yourselves in her “immaculate and merciful hands” so that you might be fitting instruments to bring the “greatest possible glory to the Trinity.” Mary seeks to help us all enter more deeply into the Mystery of Faith, that her Son took on her flesh in order that his mercy might radiate through it and incorporate us into the mystery of the hypostatic union, of Mercy Incarnate. By receiving Christ’s mercy and becoming in him merciful like the Father that is the way we will give greatest glory to God, as others seeing our corporal and spiritual works of mercy, our deeds, will glorify our Father in heaven.
  • And this mystery of the connection between the Incarnation and Mercy finds its source and summit right here, as the same incarnate Jesus who inhabited Mary’s womb for 9 months after the fiat we celebrate today comes onto this altar and within us, to unite ourselves with him as we offer all we are and have together with him to the Father in saving atonement. Let us with Mary enter into this incarnate consecration of mercy!

 

 

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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