Monday, March 31, 2008

FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION

From a Homily by St. Bernard the Abbot on
St Luke 1: 26-38

"The Angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a Virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David ; and the Virgin's name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women".

Consider that this Angel was not one of lesser rank, even though such are, on one account or another, often sent on embassies to this earth. That he was an Angel of greater rank is indicated by his name which signifieth : Strength of God : and by the fact that he was sent, not by some Angel perhaps more excellent than he (as is usual), but from God himself. Therefore for this reason it is said : From God. Or, it might be for another reason, namely, lest it should be thought that God had discourteously revealed his counsel to any of the blessed spirits, except only the Archangel Gabriel, before he did so to the Virgin. For Gabriel alone was found so eminent among his compeers as to be held worthy both of such a name and message. Neither do his name and his message disagree. For whom did it more behove to announce Christ, who is the Power of God, than him who is honoured by a like name? For what else is power than strength? Neither doth it appear to be unbecoming or unseemly that the Lord and his messenger should be known by a like title. Christ is called the power or strength of God in a very different sense from that in which this appellation is given to the Angel. In the Angel it is but a name. In the case of Christ, it is also an eternal attribute. Christ is called, and truly is, the power of God. When the strong man armed was wont to keep his house in peace, a stronger came upon him, and overcame him by the strength of his arm, and forcibly deprived him of all his spoils. But the Angel is called the strength of God, either because this title was his right, as herald of the power of God ; or because it was his duty to comfort the Virgin (who was naturally timid, simple, and bashful) lest she should be affrighted at the novelty of the miracle. This he certainly did by saying : Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favour with God. Thus was Gabriel fitly chosen for this work. Yea, because he was entrusted with so great a mission, rightly was so great a name assigned to him.