“How can this be?”


Today’s Readings, March 25, 2020

Happy Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord! Today we celebrate Jesus’ Incarnation. Jesus, who is God, humbled himself and took on human flesh, thereby divinizing humanity (elevating it, making it Godly). If there was ever a feast day that exemplifies the goodness of the material world, this is it. 

Some might believe that matter is bad and spirit is good. That has never been the Catholic understanding of the cosmos. The material world, including human flesh, is good because God made it, yet it is fallen because of original sin. When our bodies are resurrected, our flesh will not be fallen, but glorified like Jesus’ resurrected body. 

God works in mysterious and unexpected ways. When Gabriel tells Mary she will conceive a Son who will be King and Lord of the line of David, she asks, “How can this be?” In today’s second reading from the Office of Readings, Saint Leo the Great contemplates the mystery of the Incarnation:

“Lowliness is assumed by majesty, weakness by power, mortality by eternity. To pay the debt of our sinful state, a nature that was incapable of suffering was joined to one that could suffer. … Beyond our grasp, he chose to come within our grasp. Existing before time began, he began to exist at a moment in time. Lord of the universe, he hid his infinite glory and took the nature of a servant. Incapable of suffering as God, he did not refuse to be a man, capable of suffering. Immortal, he chose to be subject to the laws of death.” 

God’s ways are not our ways (Is 55:8). 

When Gabriel visited Mary she was troubled, but he told her, “Do not be afraid.” We should listen to Gabriel. Though it is natural for us to ask “How can this be?” in our own lives, just as Mary did, we should be open to being surprised and even shocked by the ways God chooses to work in our lives. Though we may not always understand, let’s do our best to respond as Mary did, “May it be done to me according to your word.”

Be well. 


Cole, Jeffrey, ed. Daily Roman Missal. 7th ed. Woodridge: Midwest Theological Forum, Inc., 2012. 

Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. Saint Joseph Edition of The New American Bible. personal size ed. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Corp., 2011.

Hahn, Scott, ed. Catholic Bible Dictionary. New York: Doubleday, 2009.

Powell, Mark Allan, ed. The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. 3rd ed. New York: HarperOne, 2011.

Image from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Francisco_de_Zurbar%C3%A1n,_Spanish_-_The_Annunciation_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

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