Our Lady of the Angels - August 2

The centrepiece of the painted wooden triptych above the altar of the Porziuncola is the Annunciation. When the Virgin Mary accepted the angel's announcement, the Word of God became a frail and mortal being in her womb. Our Lady of the Angels is Our Lady of the Incarnation of the eternal Word, the Son of God.

No one more than Mary received the Spirit of God into his or her heart and mind, and even into her body. The Son of God was born of a woman, at the time appointed by God his Father.

The expression "the appointed time" is literally "the fullness of time". It refers to the time of the Messiah, the Saviour of his people. When he came, he filled a need felt for centuries, rather like filling up an empty vessel to the brim. He brought a long time of waiting to a perfect conclusion.

Jesus proclaimed, "The time has come" (Mk 1:15). Paul described the appointed time as "the end of the age" (1 Cor 10:11), "in our own time, the last days" (Heb 1:2), "now at the end of the last age" (Heb 9:26), "when the times had run their course to the end" (Eph 1:10). Peter also described it as "in our time, the end of the ages" (1 Pet 1:20).

All this is brought about with God's sending his Son who took on human nature in the womb of a woman. In this way, God the Son inserted himself into the historical reality of a particular people and so subjected himself to the law of that people, the Mosaic Law.

He came on a saving mission, to redeem us from the Mosaic Law, and to make us adopted sons of God. This adoption that makes us heirs of God our Father is more than a simple juridical title. It is a gift of the Spirit of God and it affects our very being. We are sons of God because we are born of his Spirit, and so we are his heirs by more than a legal fiction.

So, there are two aspects to our redemption by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Before he redeemed us, we were like children and slaves dominated by the Mosaic Law, but we gained freedom from the Law by becoming sons through receiving the Spirit of God into our very being.

On this feast day, let us pray that the words of St Francis will be verified in us: " the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon them and make Its home and dwelling place among them, and they are children of the heavenly Father Whose works they do, and they are spouses, brothers and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Earlier Exhortation to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, 6-7.)