COR THOUGHTS 235: The Mystery Now Manifested

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This weekend’s Gospel presents the familiar account of the Annunciation in Luke’s Gospel. Here “the mystery kept secret for long ages [is] now manifested” (second reading). What is it? God wants to marry us! While the prophets of the Old Testament spoke of God’s love for Israel in this way, here, through the conception of God’s Son in the womb of the Virgin, we learn, as Pope Francis asserts, that God’s “spousal love” for humanity is not just a “manner of speaking.” These are “real and true nuptials!” exclaims Francis. While Mary had “no relations with a man,” as we read in this Sunday’s Gospel, the virginal union Mary experienced with God when the “power of the Most High” overshadowed her was an experience of everything to which the marital embrace is meant to point. The doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity, therefore, is in no way a negation of human sexuality, as many tend to think. Rather, it is the deepest possible affirmation of the real purpose and meaning of sexuality: to point us to union with God. As Saint John Paul II observed, Mary’s virginity is motivated by her “desire for total union with God.” “She wanted to be his faithful bride.”