Salvation begins in the womb: honoring the Annunciation
March 25, 2015 (HLI.org) -- The Archangel Gabriel was sent by God to deliver the joyful news that Mary was to conceive a child, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be the ruler of the eternal kingdom. (Luke 1:33) The beginning of the human life of the second Person of the Holy Trinity took place in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, from whom the child inherited the fullness of human nature.
While often in the Bible we see the conception and birth of great men surrounded by extraordinary events, the conception of the Redeemer is the greatest of such miracles, since Jesus is conceived without a human father.
The Solemnity of the Annunciation on March 25 celebrates the mystery of the Incarnation, which takes place nine months before the celebration of Our Lord’s birth on Christmas day.
St. Athanasius of Alexandria, the heroic defender of the Divinity of Christ proclaims of this day:
Today is the beginning of our salvation,
And the revelation of the eternal mystery!
The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin
As Gabriel announces the coming of Grace.
Together with him let us cry to the Theotokos:
“Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with you.”
Traditionally, Christian art has depicted Our Lady as being in prayer when the Archangel arrived. In this she sets an example for us to be open to the will of God and seek his will in prayer. Due to her superior intelligence unencumbered by debilitating effects of original sin, the Virgin understood she would become the mother of the expected Messiah.
But, why should she be elected from amongst women for the splendid dignity of being the mother of the Messiah, having vowed her virginity to God? Therefore, not doubting the word of God like Zachary, but filled with fear and astonishment, she replied: “How shall this be done, because I know not man?” The angel removed Mary’s anxiety and assured her that her virginity would be spared: “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you.” Trusting in the omnipotence of God she stated with total confidence: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word.”
Many of the Fathers of the Church say that our salvation depended on this consent. St. Thomas Aquinas explained:
It was the will of God that the redemption of mankind should depend upon the consent of the Virgin Mary. Because the Lord is always ready to use the cooperation of human persons in His plans of salvation. This consent was foreseen from all eternity, and therefore was received as essential into the design of God. (Summa III:XXX)
With Mary’s consent, Jesus begins his life on earth, and the feast reminds us of the nine months Jesus spent in her womb. Thereby, the Annunciation provides a valuable starting point to defend the life of unborn babies. In many countries, March 25 is also celebrated as the feast of the unborn baby, particularly in Latin America. On this date we pray and ask the Lord to protect them from the risks of abortion in all its different forms, including those that happen through chemical means, artificial means of conception and against any other actions or omissions that might menace the life of the child in the womb.
Today, when millions of unborn babies are killed by abortion, this feast allows us to meditate on this most basic fact: Life begins at conception. Life should be defended since that very moment. It is our duty to defend life against a materialistic and hedonistic ideology which reduces the child in the womb to material thing without any rights. We must defend life against ideology that uses verbal engineering to justify the death of these children in the womb.
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The best way to promote the Culture of Life is through prayer and public action, to evangelize and educate society that the unborn child has the same rights as all human persons already born. We have to clearly explain that human life comes from God and we are created in His image and likeness. In our presentations we should seek to demonstrate that all political societies have a duty and a right to protect, in an integral way, the unborn child.
The protection of human life and its infinite dignity are the most primary duties of political society. Society must defend life by its laws from its beginning at conception through its end with natural death. The unborn child not only has the right to live, but to be nurtured and grow in a healthy environment within a stable family formed by a man and woman. They, in turn, are to be committed in a permanent and faithful marriage. The family must be protected by a just social order based on the law of Christ.
On this beautiful feast, through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth, we ask the Lord for the grace, first and foremost, of expressing our gratitude to Our Lord for His Incarnation that was the dawn of our salvation, and to Our Lady for her consent to be the mother of God. With this understanding, we should be able to promote always and everywhere in an integral way the rights of the unborn child.
Reprinted with permission from Human Life International.