For quite some time in the Western Church no feast is allowed to coincide with Holy Week or Bright Week (as it is called in the East), so, from today until the Sunday after Easter any feast that shows up gets either ignored or moved. Thus the Liturgical Celebration of Annunciation is, this year, on 9 April.
But, today is 25 March, the Annunciation of Our Lord to Mary. It is also Palm Sunday. And so we are permitted an odd confluence of images in meditation. Of the Angel coming to Mary announcing Liberation from Sin on the one hand and, on the other, of the Crowds coming to Jesus announcing liberation from Rome; of Mary’s humble acceptance by her human fiat of God’s plan, and of the Crowd’s rejection of that plan when they realized Jesus wasn’t going to do anything political, in fact, he implicated them in the politics of oppression as well.
For humans don’t want to see political oppression as the result of human sin. It is a symptom, not the disease.
The Annunciation to Mary that God was going to act in this backwood country, in the life of this unwed teenager was a profoundly political act, sure. It is only accidentally so. But to cure the disease you have to start at the roots, if not below them. The human race needed to be restarted, a human mother, God acting, this could not be done in a place where Emperors walk. But kings must be brought low to worship Divinity. And all raised together. If you miss the glory of God acting, the politics are only a shell, an idol, an icon of only more sin.
Yet bread and circuses win the race in the short term. And crowds seeing no kingdom by Wednesday will walk away, or turn angry and what was a mob of cheers will be come a basket of deplorables, easily led by their own anger. They follow the idol of Rome, even when they hate it. They do God’s will even when they think they reject it.
Humble submission to God’s plan is required, but even the mob can be part of it.
So Angels hail full of Grace and Cry on the same day for human blindness. We hail our king (and his mother) only to betray them both in a short while. How often that happens every day, when morning prayers are done and we walk out into the world.
Hail full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. We were going to tak him a way, and we said we’re going to make him king, but we’re going to take him away to crucify him.
This is our secret plot.
But it is the divine plan from the beginning.
And you see us cheer
You know the jeers
Help us come to sing