Monday, March 26, 2007


Notes for a homily on the feast of the Annunciation 2007

In the name of God, Father of life, Christ of love, Spirit of grace. Amen.

Gold for the king, Frankincense for the priest, Myrrh for the sacrifice: the three kings greet the holy family with these words in the recent motion picture of the Nativity. There is, I submit, one more gift - for us to offer: Praise for the Living One.

Raymond Brown, the Roman Catholic biblical scholar, taught that the gospels actually were written beginning with the passion narrative - proceeding through Holy Week, the Passion, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and then on around to the Birth narratives. So in a way are we going through the story this week. Yesterday, Sunday, we heard the story of the Anointing of Christ; today, we hear the story of the Annunciation of the Birth of the Messiah.

Mary, brother of Lazarus, anoints Jesus' feet in anticipation of his burial and in a gesture of love.

Mary, mother of Jesus, accepts the burden of her son, conception to assumption, knowing - when? Right away? - that she must not count him as hers to keep, but let go of him, dedicate him to the Lord, as Samuel's mother Hannah dedicated him, knowing he will go from her.

Mary mother of the Messiah takes this on herself, knowingly, as God's servant, because she knew that he was sent to set the people free: that at last God's promise to redeem Israel would bear fruit in the fullness of time, and that it was very soon, and was beginning to happen, quickening even now in her.

The Word would indeed ripen in her own womb. She would bear forth upon the world he who would himself bear the pain of the world.

Like Hannah's son Samuel, Jesus the Son of Mary is one consecrated, set apart for service to the Lord, as a thanksgiving offering to the Lord. Samuel is the prophet who brought justice to Israel, and yet he points beyond himself - to Saul, first, then to David, to David's son Solomon, and ultimately to Jesus.

In the birth story of Samuel, Hannah his mother rejoices that God has remembered the forgotten, and will bring relief to the poor.

1 Samuel 1.11, 1.20, 2.1-10 (NRSV)

Sounds familiar...

In the birth story of Jesus, Mary his mother rejoices that God remembers the forgotten and brings relief to the poor. Let us together join in her song, Magnificat, the Song of Mary, Canticle 15 in the Book of Common Prayer...

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