‘The Word was made flesh’…HERE!
February 12, 2020
I have received great comfort and joy throughout my time as a seminarian from frequent recitation of the words Verbum caro factum est—“the Word became flesh” (John 1:14)—as part of the traditional Angelus prayer I recite each day at noon and 6pm. As recounted in Saint Luke’s Gospel, this prayer is based on Saint Gabriel the Archangel’s Annunciation to Our Lady that she was to be the Mother of our Divine Redeemer. The “Angelus”—named thusly because of the angelic message it proclaims—never fails to fill me with great hope and awe in the infinite love that God pours out for us through our Blessed Mother. After all, it is through Our Lady that the eternal Word of God assumes our humanity, in all of its weakness and frailty, and, therefore, through Our Lady that God chooses to bear forth His loving work of redemption for us, in His son, Jesus Christ.
However, I have never prayed the words Verbum caro HIC factum est—“the Word became flesh HERE”—until visiting the Basilica of the Annunciation during our Holy Land Pilgrimage. The Basilica in Nazareth is built atop the location where the Archangel appeared toMary in her house just over 2,000 years ago to announce to her God’s desire that she become the Holy Mother of our loving Savior Jesus Christ (Luke 1:31). The sacred words “the Word became flesh here,” written in Latin on the front of the altar in the ruins of the house of Mary in thelower church, mark the precise spot that tradition maintains is where the Angel Gabriel announced this joyful news to Mary, and through her Yes to God’s plan, the Incarnation, God becoming man in Jesus Christ at the moment of human conception in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, took place.
Was I completely overwhelmed by the spiritual gravity of the situation? Yes! Spellboundto actually be praying with the all-important “HERE”? Of course! Awestruck that the Incarnation took place HERE, in a concrete time and space all out of God’s loving desire that we might share in His own divine life? Absolutely! Fortunately, Our Lady is always at work in us to help us receive her Son’s graces. As such, she implanted the same fervent desire into my heart that she often does when I receive Holy Communion and struggle how to respond to the gift of God Himself with her humble fiat, her “let it be done unto me according to thy word” (Lk 1:38). May Our Lady’s fiat, her humble receptivity to the will of God, always be our own as well! Ave Maria!
Diocese of Albany