Today, the Church celebrates the feast of the Annunciation. Through Mary’s “Yes” to God, the Word became flesh within her womb. Today’s readings at Mass reflect Mary’s perfect cooperation with God’s will that helped bring about the redemption of mankind.
The responsorial psalm today is, “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.” The second reading (Hebrews 10:4-10) teaches about Jesus Christ living the will of his Father. Jesus always prayed, “Behold, I come to do your will.” Finally, in today’s Gospel, we hear Mary’s words that changed the course of human events and invited God into our world: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk. 1:38)
The station church today is San Vitale. This church, going back to the fourth century, was a shrine to San Vitale, his wife, and sons – all of whom were martyrs for the faith. The martyrs are some of the Church’s greatest examples of people who followed God’s will very closely, even to the point of death.
In more recent history, the church of St. Vitale was connected to yet another martyr. During the 16th-century persecution of Catholics in England, Bishop John Fisher refused to sign the Oath of Supremacy that denied the pope’s authority and declared Henry VIII the head of the Church in England. Pope Clement VII named Fisher a cardinal and entrusted today’s station church, San Vitale, to Fisher as his titular church. Fisher was martyred for the faith in 1535, soon after being named a cardinal. Like our Lady and Jesus, he said “yes” to the will of God.
This feast of the Annunciation, let us stay close to our Lady, so that with her we can say, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” By following God’s will, we too can be the instruments who bring Christ into the world.
Written by Patrick Lewis
Photo by Fr. Justin Huber