I may surprise you with this, but I believe it is the latter. We date Christmas because of the Annunciation. Here is the mystery. We are in the season of the year where we could have already celebrated Easter. It can be this early in March! Now, some people suggest, and it makes a great deal of sense, that in the year that Jesus was born, the feast of Passover happened in what would have been late March.
This could even have been March 25. Which is why we celebrate Christmas on December 25, nine months from this date. Why would that be important?
The Passover was when the firstborns of the Egyptians were slaughtered by the angel of death, in order to set the Israelites free. Their freedom did not gain them freedom to eternity in heaven, but only to the promised land. The firstborn son in Israel from that time on had to be especially redeemed, in commemoration of what God had done in Egypt.
But let’s take just a little bit deeper look. Pharaoh went after all of the sons of Israel. The result was that the firstborn of the Egyptians was killed. Now we fast-forward hundreds of years to the time of Jesus, and Herod is going about killing all the infant boys in and around Bethlehem. I do not count these things as coincidences. The devil was trying to fight against God in any way he could.
But as we know, he failed, and failed fantastically! He tried to use death to destroy the son of God. Instead death itself was destroyed 33 years after the attempt to destroy Jesus by Herod.
All of the stories, from the Annunciation, backward to the Exodus and forward to the Resurrection, tell us the story of redemption that God had planned.
Here on this Solemnity of the Annunciation, in this particular year, we are facing it in isolation. Death seems to be standing at the door of our entire society. But the triumph of God is great. We trust in his merciful love. And if there are some who do face physical death because of this disease, we know and trust in this merciful God that he will draw our brothers and sisters from the darkness of death into the wonderful light of the resurrection that he so beautifully and perfectly laid out for us.
Now is the time for caution, but not fear. Now is the time to be aware of the needs of others, but not fear. Now is the time to declare our faith before the world, and not fear. Pope Saint John Paul, as one of his first and most consistent refrains, reminded us of Christ’s call.
He said: “Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power.… Be not afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ.… Be not afraid. Christ knows ‘what is in man.’ He alone knows it.… We ask you therefore, we beg you with humility and trust, let Christ speak to man. He alone has words of life, yes, of eternal life.”
But whatever thinks it can do its worst, try. Because of Mary’s “yes” to the angel, God’s redemption of his people has been assured. Today, even though some people are living in a fear almost of their own shadow, we can walk with clarity, caution, but… no… fear. God is in heaven. Christ is the victorious king. And his mother reigns as Queen. Be not afraid. Amen.
Now, pray with me the prayer for a Spiritual Communion.
My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.