The Solemnity of the Annunciation is very important in our story as Christians because the Annunciation marks the beginning of the good news. What is the good news? We pray this in the Angelus: “The word was made Flesh and dwelt among us.” This is important in these times because this period prompts us to ask ourselves: Where is God?
Why is this beginning important?
First, the beginning gives us our roots. From our roots, we can see who we really are. What does the Annunciation teach us? That God and man are one. What does this teach us? As human beings, we are not only body. We are body and soul. We have a spirit and a body. We are seen but there’s a part of our being that is not seen. I am a body; I am also a soul. The mystery of the Annunciation tells us that God was incarnate in the womb of the Virgin not only as an infant human being but as an infant who is both human and God.
The beginning gives us also a guide in life. It gives us our roots of who we are. It gives us a guide in life. The life of the Blessed Virgin changed because of the Annunciation. It changed because God entered into her heart. It changed because she allowed God to enter into her soul. In normal course of life, children follow their parents. But in the life of the Blessed Virgin, the mother followed her child. The first follower of Jesus was the Blessed Virgin because even before she conceived Jesus in her womb, she conceived Jesus in her soul.
First, the beginning gives us roots of our true nature. Second, the beginning gives us a guide in life. However in the end, the beginning also gives us wings. When something begins, it also ends. Everything that has a beginning also has an ending, except for God because He is the beginning and end of all. And how did the story the Blessed Virgin end? Her story began with the greeting of an angel: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” And how did her story end? Through her glorious assumption into heaven—soul and body.
We started with the Annunciation and it leads us to the Assumption. They are two sides of the same story. The Assumption is not the end of the story of Mary, but a new chapter in the story of Mary which started when an angel greeted her. Let’s look at these three. First, the Annunciation gives us the beginning, the roots about who we are. Second, the Annunciation gives us the beginning to guide us in living. And third, the Annunciation (Assumption?) tells us how the story ends: Full of grace, assumed into heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and a crown of 12 stars.
Let’s apply the lessons of the Annunciation to what’s happening today. First, the Annunciation is the root. The root of who we really are. Who are we exactly? We are soul and body. What exactly is the world? The world is not only for human beings. God walks with people and from the onset we know that man and God are one. Given the intensity of difficulties we are facing today, we ask, “God, where are you?” Maybe the more important question is: “Man, woman, where are you?” God does not waver His love for us and if we cannot find God in what we are going through, it is not because God left or abandoned us, but rather because we have left God.
We’ve separated body and soul, separated faith from our lives, separated God in our minds, and separated God in our lifestyle. The coronavirus, like the Annunciation, is a reminder for us that we cannot separate God and man. We cannot separate soul and body, we cannot separate our spirit from what our eyes can see. They are twins. They go together and if we separate from God, we condemn ourselves to our destruction. Second, the Annunciation teaches us how to live. How did the Blessed Virgin live? She lived in obedience to God’s will. How do we live? Our lives are full of blessings. When you are blessed by God, we hear a whisper, “You are blessed because I love you. You have food, a river, and clean air because I love you. You have friends and you have loved ones in your life because I love you.”
However, we do not notice when God whispers because we think that the little blessings we receive are rewards that we’ve worked hard for. If we do not listen to God through His whispers and small blessings, God speaks to us through our conscience and tells us, “That’s wrong.” He says, “This is what you do” and “That’s a sin that will destroy you or cause your death.” But even if our conscience speaks, we still do not listen. C.S. Lewis said, “Pains are God’s megaphones to make us understand that we must listen to Him.” We may have played deaf when we were successful, blessed, and healthy; and suppressed the voice of our conscience that says, “Don’t kill,” “Don’t steal,” “Don’t lie.” When our conscience spoke and we did not listen, maybe the pain, the sickness, the threat of death will jolt us, will shake us, and remind us that God is still speaking to us human beings.
The coronavirus and the Blessed Virgin both invite us not to separate from God and invite us to listen to God and not to wait for pain, illness, and death. If we continue to remember the goodness of God amid comfort, success, and a good life, we do no longer need pain; and we do not need the threat of an epidemic because we always listen to Him.
Third, the Annunciation leads to the Assumption. This means that how we start will give us an indication of how we will end. The lesson we learn today is that death is a reality. Death is a blessing through the mercy of God because the thought of death entered our minds as a solution to the problem we have committed ourselves. No, my dear brothers and sisters, death is a gift of God’s mercy. It is God visiting us at the moment of death and saying to us, “Enough. You have suffered enough in this valley of death. I will take you home where there is only love, no more pain, no more sickness, no more threats, no more wars, no more violence.”
Death is a blessing from God, a sign of His mercy to ease our sufferings. Let’s not use death as a solution to the problem. Death is not the answer to criminality. Death should come from God, and should not be done by a person to another person. What does the Annunciation teach us? What does coronavirus teach us? That the pain is real. We have discovered many anesthetics, many medicines that make us numb to pain; but we are not only numb to illness and pain, we become insensitive to each other. And what is the solution if we become insensitive to one another? God. To love again like Jesus, to serve again like Jesus, to worship the Lord God and our Father with Jesus. Pain is real, and we do not have to remove the pain in our lives because pain is a sign that we are still alive. And I hope the pain that we feel now paves the way for us to become more compassionate and of service to one another. If we do no longer feel pain and we become numb, we will no longer hurt but we will no longer love.
My dear brothers and sisters, the Annunciation tells us who we are. The Annunciation teaches us how to live in obedience and faith. The Annunciation opens for us the glorious death, the glorious transition from earth into heaven. Lord, open our souls. Open our hearts and minds. We are taught that the coronavirus cannot separate us from You. We are taught that we need to listen to our conscience, that we have to be thankful for the little blessings that we receive. At times we become blind, insensitive, and elusive to worldly problems by murder and killings.
Lord, bring us back to the right path. Lord, in Your incarnation, teach us who we really are body and soul. In Your incarnation, teach us how to live like Mary with humility and obedience; and in Your reincarnation, may we look at death as Your gift of mercy. May we look at pain as Your invitation for compassion.
Lord, You are with us. Stay with us. Never allow us to be separated from You.
Never again, Lord.