The Annunciation of the Lord
The criterion of Christian love is the Incarnation of the Word
Today we celebrate the Annunciation of the Lord, perhaps my favorite liturgical solemnity along with Christmas. We celebrate, yes, in the middle of Lent, the fact that God became one of us, Emmanuel, God with us. This is the real beginning of Christ’s self-giving which will be fulfilled on the Cross. The mystery of our redemption starts right here!
We celebrate the fact that the eternal God became human, “humbled himself,” becoming not only one of us, but one who showed himself vulnerable. We see him not finding a place to be born, migrating to Egypt with his family to escape the very threat of death, not having a place to rest his head, not being accepted as a prophet in his own land, and ultimately dying on the cross. St John of the Cross would say that after the Incarnation, “God became speechless,” not having much to say to the world, because this one Word of God told us all at once. In this sense the Incarnation reveals fully to us who God is, how immeasurable is his love, but also reveals so much about our own humanity, how much every human being is loved by God, regardless of their situation. His loving us was becoming one with us.
Then, this Lent I ask myself, how does the Incarnation challenge me to love more deeply, listen to the Word, and hopefully respond with a “fiat” like Mary did? It seems to me that the humanity of Christ challenges us to love the way he does, becoming one with the other—sharing in this “oneness” with the world, going out of ourselves.
Pope Francis reminds us of this; he says:
“A love that does not recognize that Jesus came in the Flesh is not the love that God is asking of us. The criterion of Christian love is the Incarnation of the Word. This is our truth: God sent his Son, who became flesh and who lived like us. To love as Jesus loved us, to love as Jesus taught us, to love by following the example of Jesus; to love, journeying along the path of Jesus. It is the path of Jesus that gives life.”
Pope Francis continues, saying how “the only way to love in the way Jesus loved us is to cast aside our own selfishness and go out to help others because Christian love is a concrete love, one with acts of mercy.” Loving in the concrete, loving the vulnerable, those who are the suffering flesh of Christ, is to love as Christ has loved us.
May we learn more from the Incarnation, and make it the reference through which we weigh our love as we celebrate Emmanuel among us!
Office for Spirituality