By Kennedy Hall
Less than a week remains until the Nativity of Jesus Christ. In these final moments, the veil between Heaven and Earth becomes very thin. We stand at the precipice of the triumphal Incarnation of the Logos. For twelve months we have toiled and struggled through this Valley of Tears, but from the fiat of one Woman, we now edge closer to that fateful moment when the Lord comes into the world. He wills Himself to be born of a Virgin, in the body of a helpless child. The Lord who formed the Earth by an act of speech, humbles Himself to the point of dependence on his Immaculate Mother. It seems to me most helpful to consider the moment when Heaven met Earth, in order to continue our contemplation of the great mysteries of the Four Last Things.
Imagine for a moment the scene. In the sixth month of the unborn life of John the Baptist, Gabriel visits Our Lady at Nazareth. There are no accidents in scripture, and the names and dates situated in the histories are of immense value in understanding the depth of God’s Word. We will use the Biblical Commentary of Cornelius A. Lapide as our guide.
In the Sixth Month
What is the significance of this insistence on the sixth month? Of course, Luke is an eminent, and divinely inspired historian in this context, thus, it is true that mention of the sixth month is a reference to a historical fact. But, as is the case with Holy Writ, there is always “more to the story.” Saint John the Baptist was conceived the 24th of September, hence his feast day of June 24th, which is called the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. Luke, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, implores us to consider the date of Christ’s Incarnation, which after the passage of six months, brings us to March 25th. The 25th of March is the date of the First Easter, which is in keeping with the tradition of the dates of martyrdom lining up with dates of conception. Furthermore, many ancient Fathers are of the opinion that the initial date of Creation, a few thousand years before Christ, was also March 25th. This means that the date of the world’s conception is also the date of the Lord’s Incarnation, and also the date of the Lord’s Crucifixion, through which the world was restored. Nine months after March 25th we find ourselves at December 25th, the Nativity of Our Lord. It is a wonder how the myths of Christ being born in the springtime ever gained ground.
The Angel Gabriel
There are three angel names in Scripture: Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael. Michael of course defeated Lucifer and cleansed Heaven of the demonic scourge of the Ancient Serpent. His name, derived in Hebrew, means “Who is like God,” which was his battle cry as he led the Heavenly Host against the Luciferian Legions. Raphael presides over the healing of men’s bodies, which is seen when he restores sight to Tobias. The name Raphael means, “Healer of God.” Gabriel, who appears in Daniel and Luke, bears a name that means “Strength of God.” He presides over the conflicts and wars of the faithful, thus his presence at the Annunciation signifies the coming war against the Prince of this World.
When Gabriel visits Mary, it is not simply a pious event, but a declaration. The Strength of God delivers the news to the Theotokos that the war waged long ago by Michael and the angels will take place on this earth. The entrance of the Word of God into World will be under the mantle of the Sacred Womb. As if sneaking behind enemy lines, in the disguise of an Infant, the Immaculate Virgin is God’s chosen weapon against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. When Heaven arrives on earth, it comes to fight, ready for battle against the Pit of Perdition.
In Hebrew the name for Mary is Miriam, which means “bitterness of the sea.” The Hebrews held a tradition that Moses’s sister was called Miriam because at her birth began the drowning of the children by Pharaoh. In a sense, Mary is the New Miriam, as Christ is the New Moses, and this event prefigures the Slaughter of the Holy Innocents ordered by Herod. However, in true biblical fashion, Miriam becomes Mariam, which means “Mistress of the sea.” This is because, just as Moses led the men through the Red Sea, so too Miriam led the women. Moses and Miriam led the Hebrews out of the slavery of Egypt, just as Jesus, through Mary, brings us out of the slavery of sin.
Mary is the Mistress of the Sea, which is helpful in understanding her title as the Star of the Sea. Furthermore, it shows her cooperation with God as Mediatrix of all Graces. She is like a “sea of graces,” which is one reason she was called called Full of Grace. The graces possessed by the angels, patriarchs, apostles, martyrs, confessors, and virgins came together in her. If Christ is like the fountain of Divine Grace, then Mary is like a reservoir, filled to the brim, ready to be bestowed on those who call upon her Son.
The Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary in the sixth month was not an event of inconsequential historical facts. In this moment where the Power of God visited the Star of the Sea, the Son of Man came into our world to bring the fallen world a step closer to Heaven. At this grace-filled encounter, Gabriel put forth the plan of salvation to the Blessed Mother, desiring her cooperation. The Co-Redemptrix heard the news, and, mysteriously, predestination and free-will danced throughout the pregnant pause of Mary’s contemplation of the Incarnation. For just a moment, the hosts of Angels edged themselves towards earth ever so slightly, as if to hear the Divine Fiat in secret. All of creation, groaning in travail since the Fall of Man, held its breath, waiting to exhale with the hope for the renewal of the Breath of Life. Never in history has there been a more deafening silence in the universe than that timeless moment between Gabriel’s words and Our Lady’s assent. Not only did Heaven wait from above, but from the Pit, the multitude of maleficent spirits writhed in anguish at the thundering silence of the Virgin’s peaceful countenance.
Be it done to me according to thy word. Like an angelic amplification of the final movement of Beethoven’s 9th, the Celestial Choirs bellowed forth the Blessing of the Bride of the Holy Ghost. From the paradise of the fallen Patriarchs and Matriarchs, Adam and Eve gazed upon the beauty of the Morning Star as she humbled herself to a place exalted beyond every creature. The Curse of Eve was broken, and the stage was set for Mary’s Magnificat. In this eternally fleeting moment of anticipation, the proud were humbled and the fallen were raised. Heaven and Earth, for the first time since that fateful day of Creation, embraced as Justice and Mercy kissed.
The Reign of the Dragon was coming to an end, and it was the Woman, the Dragon Slayer, who stood with her heel on Hell and her Immaculate Heart in Heaven.
Praise and Glory be to Jesus Christ Our Lord, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, for giving us His Blessed Mother as our own. Because of her cooperation, Heaven waits for each soul to also say Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.
Kennedy Hall is a Catholic High School teacher, rugby coach, and part time writer on Catholic topics. He has written for the Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, Serviam Ministries and the Fatima Center. He teaches Catholic Religion courses to French Immersion students and also speaks Spanish and Italian. Kennedy has spoken at various youth events, as well as on the topic of true Catholic masculinity. He has a passion for the Traditional Latin Mass and the restoration of traditional piety. A prodigal son, he was brought back into the Church with the help of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and prays for the day that all men depend on the Blessed Mother. He lives with his wife and 4 children in Stratford, Ontario. Follow him @kennedyhall.