The solemnity of the Annunciation is a day of great celebration, commemorating the moment when the Angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary to announce the miraculous birth of Christ. Here are eight important things to know about this significant day.
Firstly, the word “Annunciation” comes from the same root as “announce,” as Gabriel announces the birth of Christ in advance. While this term is often associated with Christ’s birth, it can be applied in other ways, as evidenced in the book Jesus of Nazareth 3: The Infancy Narratives.
The Solemnity of the Annunciation is typically celebrated on March 25, which is nine months before Christmas, and it is believed that this was the amount of time Jesus spent in the womb. However, when this date falls during Holy Week, it is moved to the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter.
The stories of the Annunciation and the birth of John the Baptist share many parallels, such as the Angel Gabriel making the announcement, announcing a miraculous birth, offering a miraculous sign as evidence, and then departing. However, Mary’s reaction to Gabriel is fundamentally different from Zechariah’s, as her question is one of faith seeking understanding, not skepticism.
Mary’s question also provides insight into her perpetual virginity. The literal translation of her question is “since I do not know man,” using the biblical euphemism for sexual relations. Her question indicates that she was not planning on an ordinary marriage, which is supported by early Christian writings indicating that Mary was a consecrated virgin.
When Gabriel responds to Mary’s question, he explains that the Holy Spirit will come upon her and the power of the Most High will overshadow her, and that the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. This highlights the involvement of all three Persons of the Trinity in the conception of Jesus.
Finally, it is worth noting that Elizabeth is not necessarily Mary’s cousin, as some might think. The term “brothers” of the Lord could refer to cousins or other relatives, but it is not a definitive statement on the matter.