The Annunciation

by Father John A. Hardon, S.J.

Archbishop Burke

It is not without deep reason that Saint Luke is called the “Evangelist of the Holy Spirit.” When Our Lady asked the angel at the Annunciation how she was to conceive a son since she was vowed to virginity, the angel assured her that, “the Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee.” Some thirty years later, the Apostles asked the risen Savior on the way to His ascension whether He was then going to restore the Kingdom to Israel. He told them, “You shall receive the power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and even to the very ends of the earth.”

In both cases, at the Annunciation and at the Ascension, it is the Holy Spirit who does the humanly impossible. It was by His divine power that the Virgin Mary conceived and then gave birth to the Second Person of the Trinity made man. It was again by His divine power that the Apostles began to proclaim the divinity of Mary’s Son, and thus enable those who believe to be conceived and born again as children of God.

The key word in both cases is power, which the Holy Spirit gives to those who believe. It was Mary’s faith that opened her womb to receive the Incarnate Lord. It was the faith of the 3000 Jesus baptized on Pentecost Sunday which opened their hearts to receive supernatural life into their souls.

As we reread the story of the two annunciations, at Nazareth and in Jerusalem, we are struck by their common denominators. They are faith, which God requires of those whom He calls to do great things in His name; and the power that He promises to confer on those who sincerely believe.

It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of a humble faith in God’s promises as the precondition for the miracles He wants to perform. “If you have faith,” Christ told us on one occasion, “you can tell the mountain to move. And it will move, provided you believe.”

What is less obvious, however, is the nature of the miracles that Christ will perform through those who believe in His name. They are mainly moral miracles. They are prodigies of conversion of proud unbelievers to accept the mysteries of Christianity. They are the wonders of bringing stubborn sinners to repentance and the mercy of God. They are the signs of divine power that changes lukewarm and tepid souls into heroic followers of Christ and lovers of His Cross.

Lord, I believe that you are my God who became Man out of love for me. Strengthen my faith in your Divinity. Enable me to believe in you so strongly that your Divine Power may perform the wonders of your grace in me. Make me, dear Jesus, a conduit of your grace to bring a multitude of souls to your Sacred Heart, through the Immaculate Heart of your Mother Mary. Amen.

Copyright © 2003 Inter Mirifica. Used with permission.
Previously published in The Tilma, January 2004