Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Why is Lent so close to Easter?: Daily Mass Homily--Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 (Solemnity of the Annunciation)
I have to admit, I have a liturgical-calendar pet peeve. We celebrate Advent in December, then Christmas and the Christmas season for a few days, and many years after only a few weeks we move right into Lent. Following the Easter season there is a long period of Ordinary Time. Sometimes it’s like Jesus was just born and he is already on the cross! The reality is, we are confined in a 365 day calendar and it isn’t always the smoothest fitting in all the feasts in the way we may like.
Yet there is something cool about Christmas and Easter being so close in our calendar. Jesus was born to die. I remember a line from Harry Potter in which Snape told Dumbledore, “You have raised a pig to only be slaughtered.” Now obviously Jesus is not a pig (he is a Lamb, though!) he did come to die for our sins.
This same tension is here today. We are in the midst of the Lenten season—a season where we journey to the cross—yet today we celebrate the Annunciation of our Lord—the moment he was conceived in his mother’s womb. We must always hold these two mysteries—the incarnation and the passion—together.
And we must not forget that Mary’s yes made it possible for Jesus to come to die.
Another awesome reality is the fulfilled prophecy from Isaiah: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us!’” Within a flip of the page and a couple of minutes we hear the fulfillment in Gabriel’s announcement to Mary. Yet the time between the prophecy and its fulfillment were seven or eight hundred years apart. Think about that—seven or eight hundred years! Not only was our country not formed that long ago, but it was centuries away from its establishment.
As we take a break from our Lenten penance to rejoice in the incarnation, may we strive to remember the connection between Jesus’ birth and death. And like Mary, may we always say yes to God.