With all our Rosaries and Hail Marys we have meditated on the Annunciation hundreds of thousands of times. Still, there is no plumbing the depth of Mary’s character, and there is always profit in re-entering the scene with our imaginations.
Mary showed no shock at the angel’s greeting, and she didn’t turn aside. She only pondered, asking herself what it meant. Schooled in her faith, she saw what was implied by her offspring being called the Son of the Most High. But even though she was betrothed to Joseph, she thought the angel should be aware of the flaw to implementing what he proposed. So, she asked, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?
Her spiritual stature was evidenced in her wordlessly accepting Gabriel’s explanation that she was to conceive by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.
Perceiving her acceptance, Gabriel went on to say, “Elizabeth, your relative, has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren.”
The concern for Elizabeth the angel exhibited was reassurance for Mary that he had come from her good God. It tipped the scales, leading her to say, “May it be done to me according to your word.”
Each year I tell what happened with me on this feast in 1976. I was saying Mass in the little chapel in Crescent City. During Lent we were having ten or twelve people coming to the week day Masses. On the Sunday before, reaching around for material for its homily, I turned to the Annunciation as marking the all important moment when the Son of God became man.
After that Sunday Mass, and over the phone, I had quite a few people asking me if the Annunciation was a Holy Day of obligation. Although I assured them all that it wasn’t, I re-emphasized its importance to our Faith. With the feast day falling on Thursday, I expected attendance would rise from the usual ten or twelve; but in fact, only four Catholics came to Mass that day.
Back then, to avoid committing a mortal sin, all Catholics made it to Mass on Holy Days of Obligation; but when the day was clearly established as not being of obligation, people stayed away to avoid being accused of showing off their piety.