Volume XIV:1 January - June 2024
Mary and the Infant Jesus from a15th-century manuscript, Baghdad. (Khalili Collection Islamic Art)
Mary and the Infant Jesus from a15th-century manuscript, Baghdad. (Khalili Collection Islamic Art)
Homily for the Feast of the Annunciation
A homily was preached at the Monastery of Saint Benedict in Saint Joseph, Minnesota, on April 8, 2024, the date to which the feast of the Annunciation was transferred since March 25 fell on the Monday of Holy Week. The homily followed the account of the Annunciation from the Gospel of Luke 1:26-38.
Let me read you another account of the Annunciation:
The angels said, “O Mary, God has chosen you, and has purified you. He has chosen you over all the women of the world. . . . The Word God gives you is good news. His name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, well-esteemed in this world and the next, and one of the nearest. He will speak to the people from the crib and in adulthood, and he will be one of the righteous.” 
Mary said, “My Lord, how can I have a child, when no man has touched me?” God said, “It will be so. God creates whatever He wills. To have anything done, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is” (Surah 3 [Family of Imran], 3:42-43, 45-47).
That account of the Annunciation is from the Qur’an, and it is not the only mention of Mary in the holy book of Islam. In fact, the title of one of its chapters is “Mary” (Maryam in Arabic), and she is the only woman the Qur’an refers to by name.
The esteem of Muslims for Mary is almost as great as that of Catholics. They do not refer to her as the mother of God, but they would have no trouble praying the first half of the “Hail Mary,” in which we say, “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”
Throughout the world Muslims go on pilgrimage to Marian shrines. The House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus is a site that draws many Muslim pilgrims as well as Christians. Another shared Marian shrine is the monastery of Our Lady of Saidnaya in Syria, with its icon of Mary, reputed to have been written by Saint Luke. In the Benedictine world, a popular Marian shrine for Muslims is the monastery of Monserrat in the Catalan region of Spain with its Black Madonna, a Romanesque sculpture dating from the late twelfth century. 
In Lebanon, the Feast of the Annunciation is a national holiday, and it was a Muslim who came up with the idea. The motto for the day is “Together around Mary, Our Lady,” reflecting the shared veneration of Mary between the Muslim majority and Christian minority in that country. 
God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus, whom we believe is the incarnate Son of God, and whom Muslims venerate as Messiah and one of the greatest of the prophets whose return they await at the Last Judgment. 
Together around Mary, our Lady and our Mother, may Christians and Muslims be reconciled and be a sign of the peace and mutual respect that God wants for all people.
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