Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the announcement of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. This celebration always takes place on March 25th, and this year it falls on a Friday. The last time it coincided with Good Friday was in 2016, and although the celebration of the Lord’s Passion of course takes precedence, the pairing with the Annunciation is an interesting juxtaposition that is a good subject for meditation. This is also true when it falls on any Friday, since that day can always be seen as a “little Good Friday.” March 25th is also held traditionally by the Church as the actual date of the Crucifixion and Death of Christ, and although historical records have shown that the date is more likely to have been in April (“Is March 25 the Historical Date of the Crucifixion?,” www.aleteia.org), this tradition gives us the opportunity to reflect on Jesus’s mission coming full circle and reminds us of His purpose in becoming man in the womb of Mary: to suffer and die for our sins. This took humility, and it makes us reflect on our humility and the efforts we take to improve.
A pregnancy announcement is typically full of excitement and anticipation for the baby’s future, what their life will end up being like and what their accomplishments might be. Normally, a couple cannot know how their child’s life will pan out or how it will end. Even though Mary did not foresee the Crucifixion specifically, She was given to know what Jesus’s purpose in life would be. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High,” the angel Gabriel tells Her. “The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever” (Luke 1: 32-33). Furthermore, at Jesus’s Presentation, the prophet Simeon tells Mary and Joseph that Jesus will be a sign to be contradicted, and that a sword will pierce Mary’s heart (Luke 2: 34-35). Even though they are not aware of all that will happen to Jesus initially, they are made to understand that His life will not be easy and that His purpose is to be given to God for His people, to save them from their sins. Jesus was the only baby in history who was actually born just to die. When we think of this, it seems rather cruel at first, but it was a birth born out of love for us. He came because He wanted to save us. It seems fitting, then, that tradition would hold that His death occurred on the same day as this wonderful announcement of His conception, which happened strictly for us. Since His conception was for us, the way that His life would end for us should be contemplated on the same day. Both the Annunciation and Crucifixion are fitting bookends for Jesus’s life which was always focused on doing His Father’s Will and the salvation of mankind.
In this way, both the Annunciation and Crucifixion highlight the humility of Jesus, both in the way He chose to enter the world and how He chose to leave it. When you think about God choosing to enter the world through a woman’s womb as a tiny baby and then choosing to die a horrible death just for us, it truly is breathtaking. He chose to take on human nature and experience the same things we do, like birth and death. Thinking about this as we meditate on both the announcement of Christ’s coming and His death opens us to think about how humble we are in our lives and how much we still have to work at it. Jesus wants us to be open to His workings in our lives and in order for this to happen, we need to be humble and allow ourselves to say yes to whatever He wills just as He did when He became man and died for us. When we become humble and open to what God wants of us, we can find our true purpose in life and what will make us happy. Jesus’s purpose was always known and He remained faithful to it even when things were hard because of His humility and obedience to His Father. We are called to discover the way in which we are to serve God in our lives and to remain faithful just as Jesus was, through humility and obedience.
As we celebrate the joyful occasion of the Annunciation today, we should keep in mind the future for Jesus and the reason why He came into this world to begin with. The Annunciation and the Crucifixion are two of the pivotal moments in our salvation, and the fact that they were traditionally celebrated on the same day highlights the link between them and invites us to meditate on both events and their implications. This year especially, as it falls on a Friday, we can see how it all comes full circle and ask Jesus to reveal to us the depths of this connection.