Red and white tulips on the Cathedral grounds

Hebrews 2:5-10

God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels. But someone has testified somewhere, “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, or mortals, that you care for them? You have made them for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned them with glory and honor, subjecting all things under their feet.” Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Here in the closing days of Lent we pause our Lenten observance for just one day to celebrate. Today is the feast of the Annunciation, the day in which we commemorate the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she would conceive and bear a son called Jesus. Luke’s gospel tells us this beloved story, of Gabriel’s announcement and Mary’s response that rings through the ages: ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word’ (Luke 1:38). We usually associate this story with Christmas time, and it might seem out of place here in March, just three days from the start of Holy Week. This proximity of incarnation and crucifixion reminds us that this precious child would one day be condemned and nailed to a cross. Today we hear the good news that God will take on our flesh and become one of us in Jesus born of Mary; three days from now we shout, ‘Crucify him!’

As we reflect on this connection, we can look to Mary as a guide. Scripture tells us so little about Mary, and I often find myself in a posture of holy wondering about her experiences as Jesus’ mother. I imagine she must have always known that her child’s life would be unique. As for any parent, I think she knew from the start that there would be hardship along the way. Indeed, Luke’s gospel tells us that when she and Joseph brought the young child to the Temple to be presented, the prophet Simeon told her ‘a sword will pierce your own soul too’ (Luke 2:35). Her soul was indeed pierced with grief. With the other faithful women Mary stood at the foot of the cross and looked on as her son died a most gruesome death.

News of this great birth and the appalling reality of crucifixion come to us in close succession this year. With Mary we hear good news but soon find ourselves weeping with her at the foot of the cross. As we make the journey to cross and tomb in the days ahead, let us remember that at the end we will hear the voice of another angel announcing good news once again: ‘why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen’ (Luke 24:5).


Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

(The Book of Common Prayer, p. 240)