The Humanity of Jesus and Mary
February 11, 2018
While in Nazareth, we had the blessing of being able to visit the Basilica of the Annunciation. On the lower level of the basilica, we were able to pray near the site that the Catholic Church believes to be the house of the Blessed Virgin Mary – the place where the Angel Gabriel appeared to her and announced that she would conceive and bear Jesus, the Son of God.
In our Christology class a couple of years ago, we learned about the term “kenosis,” which refers to the complete self-emptying of Jesus Christ. While praying at this basilica, I pondered Christ’s self-emptying. Being the Second Person of the Trinity, He is infinite, eternal, all-powerful, and all-knowing, He is the Creator of the entire universe. If He simply stopped thinking about us, we would cease to exist! Yet, out of love for us, He emptied himself and became a human being. Out of love for us, He came down from Heaven and was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary, who lived Nazareth – an obscure village of only 400-500 people. It was such a gift to be at the place where Our Lord first emptied himself for my salvation. How humble and loving our God is!
It was a really powerful experience to pray at the house of the Virgin Mary – the place where the Annunciation is believed to have taken place. The story of the Annunciation has had a special place in my heart for a few years now; while meditating on the Annunciation, I have been able to better know and love Mary. After meditating on this story for years, I was finally able to see the place with my own eyes.
After visiting the house of Mary, we went to the upper portion of the church for Mass. When I sat down, I saw a young Middle-Eastern girl, sitting with her family in one of the pews. I was then struck with this thought: Mary, too, was once a young child. Even though the Annunciation is the first time that we hear about her in the Scriptures, she had several years of life before that. Like all of us, Mary was once a little child who was raised by her parents. This is something that I have not often thought about when it comes to Our Lady – her life before the Annunciation. From her early childhood, her teenage years, her adulthood, and her old age, she experienced many things that we have experienced in our own lives. Even though she is the Immaculate Conception, she is still a human being, just like us.
On this day, I encountered the humanity of Jesus and Mary, and this has helped me to love them even more!
By William Summerlin (Diocese of Lafayette)
Photos by Photos by Declan McNicholas (Diocese of Gary) and Peter Pedrasa (Diocese of Tucson)