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Feast of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary
“The New Adam and Eve”
Seminarian Brendan Harris, Vicar
St. Luke 1.26-38; Hebrews 10.4-10; Isaiah 7.10-14
25 March 2021
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus ☩ Christ; Amen.
In our hearing tonight, all of the Lord’s promises have been fulfilled. The words which Gabriel uttered unto the Blessed Virgin Mary are those long awaited words promised at the beginning in the Garden of Eden, the words of that promise which was renewed under Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, given to Moses, to David, declared before Ahaz against his will, and preserved all the way until this moment. For today, all of these Scriptures are fulfilled in your hearing, and the body of Jesus Christ is offered once for all.
Take heed O Adam, incline your ear O Eve, for your redemption draws nigh, for in your Seed your sins are undone. For what is our scene here tonight, if not a complete reversal of the Fall in the Garden? Here we find our new Eve, the Virgin Mary, praying alone in the garden. If one looks at paintings of the Annunciation, you may notice that in most of them, Mary is sitting before a book, she is pictured reading the Scripture when Gabriel arrives. The Holy Spirit came to her while she was contemplating the Word of the Lord, or you could even say, the Word of the Lord Himself entered her womb through the Word, through His own power, announced here by the archangel Gabriel. Likewise, we find Eve before the Tree of Good and Evil, the tree from which she was commanded not to eat. She likewise was worshipping her Lord by standing before the tree and obeying his Word, she was following the law of the Lord without sin or entertaining the wicked thought of breaking it. Yet the serpent slithered up, that most wicked of dragons, and impregnated her with thoughts of rebellion, of doubt, and of death; and as Adam stood by, they both took the plunge into the mortal coil in which we presently walk.
Mary too bore this inherited curse, yet she would choose the better part. For when the frightening oracles of Gabriel descended upon her, she too wondered in her heart what this could mean. Was this a test? Was this angel sent from Heaven or Hell? What are these awesome things this angel declares? Can a virgin conceive a son? This isn’t something that’s ever been done. But just as the Lord promised Ahaz, the promise finally comes forth and chooses the one whom He wills to favor. Clinging to this promise, the Blessed Virgin met the Word of her Lord courageously with that ever-faithful reply: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word,” that is to say, “My Lord, Thy will be done.”
In this act, we behold the New Eve. The first Eve became the mother of all sin, although she was rightly called the mother of all the living, the children she bore were in sin, in pain of childbearing, under the curse of severance from God. How much more then, is Mary the Mother of all the Living, for in her womb she bore Life Himself. In the great humility of Jesus, our Lord God found it fit—He who was Creator of all, the true Author of all life—to submit Himself to a woman’s womb. Truly, O Blessed Mother, you are filled with grace, most Blessed Virgin, for you are filled with God Himself, with the Word promised of old; that even though we, your children, were defiled with the prostitution of sin, we may be redeemed and renewed as virgins forever; we who were once dead to sin, filled with the poison of the serpent, are now made alive and filled with the Life won for us on Jesus’ Cross, where the serpent’s head was crushed and the Garden built up anew. For the Christ did not spurn the gruesome path He was to trod, but instead echoed His mother’s confession: “Behold, I have come to do your will.” Although the widowed Mother must watch on as her Son suffers, although her heart is pierced as the spear pierces Jesus’ side, her fear and mourning will be changed to joy, for that promise will never die, but rises again, and lives and fills all things.
And for you, sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, this means rebirth. For you are no longer sons of the Old Adam or the Old Eve, but you too must be born again from the waters of the womb of the New Eve, that is, the Church. For you are baptized into the Name of the New Adam, Jesus Christ our Lord—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. You must germinate in the waters the infant Christ sanctified by His presence in the womb of Mary. There, the Lord’s Angel takes you from Jesus’ side, a newly made Bride, bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. The mystery of this wonderful union is succinctly expressed in the words of Saint Joan of Arc: “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know that they are just one thing, and we should not complicate the matter.” After the manner of Jesus’ birth, you too suffer a painless birth in Baptism through the Church, undoing the curse of the Old Eve, who labored in pain and watched in grief as her children slaughtered one another. But your battle is no longer with God nor against your brother, but it is with the serpent, the dragon who still rages about and persecutes the Woman, the Church. And so rise, you her children, rise to her defense and do not be afraid. The Cross of Christ, the Immanuel, the virgin born, the king the Son of David leads you, and He will finally deliver you from all of the sin, all of the doubt, and all of the death that the dragon has wrought. For here we will dwell in His refuge, the gates of His Church, the evergreen Garden whose fruits are always ripe for the picking. So come, take and receive, dear children, the fruit the Blessed Mother of God has born for us. Let us confess with her: “Let it be to me according to your word.”
In Jesus’ ☩ Name; Amen.