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The Solemnity of the Annunciation: "Fiat Voluntas Tua"

Monday, March 26, 2012
Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10; Psalm 40; Hebrews 10:4-10; Luke 1:26-38

Recently, one of our brothers gave us a rather exceptionally fine joke. He asked: “Why did Mary, Joseph and Jesus go to Egypt on a donkey?” As we did not even know the means of transport of Our Lord when he fled to Egypt (Mt 2:13-15), we just whispered: “We don’t know!” And the brother responded: “Because Mary had already given her Fiat!”

The Solemnity of the Annunciation comes nine months before Christmas, the birth of Our Lord. Mary conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Catechism of the Catholic Church – in paragraph 484 – tells us that ‘[t]he Annunciation to Mary inaugurates "the fullness of time", the time of the fulfillment of God's promises and preparations.’ And when the answer came about how it would be possible to conceive without a man, Mary said: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” That is known as the Fiat. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in its paragraph 973, tells us that ‘by pronouncing her “fiat” at the Annunciation and giving her consent to the Incarnation, Mary was already collaborating with the whole work her Son was to accomplish.” Mary, as an active instrument of God, by her fiat,became the Theotokos, the “Mother of God.”

Yet questions remain: why did God chose a young woman already engaged to a man? If Mary had been chosen and prepared from the beginning, where are the merits in her “fiat”? In other words: what is the place of the Annunciation in relation to the Immaculate Conception? To the first question, the most understandable answer would be that God’s plans are different from our plans and they always go beyond what we might expect, for our good. God, by choosing Mary to carry the Son of God, chose at the same time Joseph to be the faithful guardian of Jesus. Mary and Joseph both accepted God’s plans because they put God’s plans of salvation before their own temporal happiness. They completely dedicated their lives to their vocation. To the second question; Mary, who had been chosen and prepared before, still needed to accept the plan of God. Adam and Eve had been in a similar situation but chose to disobey. Mary’s fiat was still needed for the plan of God to be fulfilled. In fact, the early Fathers gladly assert . . .: "The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.” Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary "the Mother of the living" and frequently claim: "Death through Eve, life through Mary.’ (CCC 494).

In the Joyful Mysteries, the first is “the Annunciation”. The Annunciation is a joyful event indeed. Our salvation was made possible and we got an answer to our many queries about God’s will for us. Mary taught us to obey the will of God and take seriously our vocations, even when they seem challenging and impossible. An act of humility and total obedience to the Will of God always plays a major role in the growth of the Kingdom of God. Mary’s fiat is our light in moments of doubt and confusion.

Gustave Ineza OP


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