Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
Today was once New Year’s Day. In ancient Rome, March 25th was the first day of the new year, a custom maintained long after the Roman empire collapsed. In England, for instance, March 25th marked the first day of the new year until 1752. In a way, it makes sense. The spring equinox is around this time, so that the days are getting longer and warmer after the depths of winter. In farms and fields everywhere, new life is springing up. This time of year is a time of newness.
It makes sense, then, that this would be a time to commemorate the Annunciation of the Lord, the occasion when God, with Mary’s consent, enters onto the worldly scene to conquer sin and death. At this point, we are well over halfway through Lent. We have had ample time to consider our sins and our failings. In the midst of our sins, Christ bursts forth into the world and renews it–renews us. Like the world at the end of winter, we feel the tiredness and oldness of things. Now they are made new.
As we reflect on this renewal, it is good for us to ask: how will we be new after Lent? At the end of every examination of conscience, Ignatius encourages us to “resolve to amend” our lives through God’s grace. Among other things, this means that we ought to consider very concretely how we will be different. In Lent, we have had an opportunity to consider our sins and do penance for them. Before Lent ends, while the subject is still fresh in our minds, we should ask how we will live our lives with God’s grace to avoid these sins–perhaps two or three concrete resolutions that we can keep. Today, the Word is made flesh to make the whole cosmos new. With God’s grace, we may likewise be renewed.