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Behold, the Handmaid of the Lord.

The Feast of the Annunciation

Today, when we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation, we not only celebrate the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary, but also the great mystery of the Incarnation, taking place at the moment Mary declares, in obedience to the Lord, “be it done.” The dialogue we observe between Mary and the angel (found in Luke, chapter 1) is rather concise; the angel’s greeting to Mary, the announcement of God’s plan, and Mary’s humble acceptance to be the Lord’s handmaid. But in this short narration- just a few handfuls of sentences- a great deal of information and meaning is conveyed.

First there is the greeting God’s messenger uses to address Mary; “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” (Lk 1:28), indicating that even at this point, Mary is already filled with God’s grace. Mary’s reaction here, first unassuming silence, and then humbly asking how God’s intentions for her will be carried out, is fitting of one who was, as we know, conceived free from original sin. We see Mary react to the angel Gabriel with humility and obedience, even fear- a sharp contrast to the actions of Eve in the garden. St. Irenaeus, considered to be the first great Catholic theologian, elaborates on the contrast between Eve and the Blessed Virgin in book 5 of Against Heresies:

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