The Annunciation of Our Lord
Observed March 27, 2019
There is no reconciling science and certain articles of the Christian faith. It’s a false dichotomy that one has to choose. The scientific method assesses what is around us. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and freezes at 32. If I let go of a baseball, it will fall to the ground.
Who made the baseball? With enough information, we can apply historical methods of inquiry and get close to the answer. Who made the world? That is a question outside of science’s purview. There is no calculation for a maker outside the dimensions of the thing made, a Creator outside of creation. We can infer from design that there must have been a designer, but there is a limit to our powers of inference. This is not to be anti-science, but to recognize the limits of our own powers and the lack of applicable data. You might even say it’s irrational to refuse to accept the possibility of a creator when there is evidence of creation.
All this is directly related to the event we celebrate tonight, the Annunciation. One thing is clear. Virgins do not conceive.
This is not new information. When Sarah told Abraham to sleep with Hagar, she had an idea of what might happen. When Joseph discovers Mary is pregnant, he’s not ignorant of how that kind of thing happens. There must be another man. That’s why he’s calling off the wedding.1
What happened in Mary’s womb was not a miracle to grab the world’s attention, like some juggler or illusionist. The world-altering event takes place in secret. It happens through God’s Word to one woman, without an audience.
But it is world-altering in the same category as when God first said, “Let there be light.” To God’s fallen creation God Himself enters.
From eternity, all three persons of the Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—are incorporeal, without a body. The Trinity is outside of creation. The Trinity is outside of the cosmos. It is not as though God visits the world on a craft that travels from a distant galaxy to our own. The only higher beings the religion of Scientism can imagine are those with superior technology.
The problems with the world are not technological. Nor can they be resolved with education, or by giving greater control to technocrats. The fundamental problem in the world is the corruption of the world. Death is in the world, brought about by man’s sin – our sin.
So the Logos, the second person of the Trinity, comes from outside the creation and enters it. That a virgin conceives is not the real miracle, although it is wondrous. The real miracle is that God loves us enough to condescend to become one of us. The little human in Mary’s womb, at the earliest stage of development, is the Divine Logos, the Word become flesh. This is why we call Mary the Mother of God. It’s not as though she is a cosmic mother who creates God. But the child in her womb is in fact God, and at the same time she is His mother.
Jesus is God. We only see that later, by His own miracles and His resurrection. But it’s true already, in her womb. And He is how we know God. “We confess no other God than the God we know as Mary’s Son” (Scaer, Collected Works, I:297).
This is world-altering because Jesus doesn’t assume the form of a man for awhile, like a spy wearing a disguise, only to discard it when the deed is done. The human body, the human nature the Logos assumes in Mary’s womb is forever united with Him. The Father is incorporeal (has no body), the Holy Spirit is incorporeal, but the Son, He forever has a body – a human body, like ours.
Here is why finally this is not just world-altering, but should be life-altering for us. Gregory of Nazianzus said this about the Christ: What He did not assume He did not redeem. If He did not take on human nature, He did not redeem human nature.
But at the Annunciation, God assumed our human nature. In that body He would be born, and said aside the privileges and power of the divinity for a time. He was hungry, and cold. He cried out for His mother. He soiled Himself and had to be changed. When He fell, He bled real human blood. When He fasted, He was hungry. He was afraid and filled with anxiety before the soldiers came. He was sad when His friends left Him and even betrayed Him.
All this He did for us, as one of us, as a brother to us.
And to all this Mary said, “Yes,” let it be to me according to your Word. With her faith and example, we come forward, confessing our sins, as a similar miracle happens each Eucharist. The Divine Logos enters bread and wine, and mingles His life with ours. In His death is our life, and in our death He will revive us.
All this is beginning when blessed Mary hears the Word from God, believes it, and says, “Amen.”