|Eugene LaVerdiere, S.S S. The Annunciation to Mary: A Story
of Faith, Luke 1:26-38. Chicago: Liturgy Training
The Annunciation to Mary in Luke's Gospel has been the subject not only of innumerable homilies and commentaries but also the scene most illustrated in Christian art. Jaroslav Pelikan says, "Of all the Marian scenes that have been portrayed through the ages, references to Luke's Annunciation scene have exceeded the number of references to all other Marian themes combined." In a museum in Japan, Fr. LaVerdiere saw a note in front of a beautiful landscape painting: "If you want to appreciate this painting and other landscape paintings, you enter the painting. From the inside, you can see the trees and mountains around you." This work is an invitation to enter and spend some time in the scene - with a well-informed and insightful tour guide.
At the entry, we relate the Annunciation to Mary to the two other scenes which form the triptych in the prologue of Luke's Gospel - the Annunciation to Zachariah, and the Visitation. Gabriel's words are simultaneously an announcement of a great event and of God's choice of Mary and her mission. The angel's message has three phases: the greeting - "Hail, fully graced"; the explanation - the child will be the "Son of the Most High," and, in him, the kingdom of David would become the kingdom of God. Finally, Gabriel says that Jesus' conception by the Holy Spirit will confer on him a unique dignity. Mary's response echoes the words of Abraham, Sarah, Elizabeth: "Nothing (literally no word) will be impossible for God, including the word addressed to me...Fiat."
In this journey into the Annunciation scene, the author accompanies the reader at every step, reviewing, in a new way, what has already been seen. The guide can be picked up at any point - making it an ideal reference for this Gospel which appears frequently in Marian liturgies.
A portrait by El Greco shows St. Luke painting the icon of the Virgin Mary with Child (Hodegetria). Luke, concluded Fr. Laverdiere, was a "superb storyteller, a person of deep faith...an excellent artist."