Christmas in March?

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. (Lk 1:26-38)

As I’ve mentioned before at Sunday Mass, we call December 25 “Christmas” because that was the day of the “Mass” of the Nativity of “Christ,” or “Christ-Mass.” And there is no doubt that the birth of Christ is a time of great rejoicing. But there is another day that should be celebrated with as much solemnity. Scientifically speaking, if Jesus was born on December 25, then he was conceived about nine months earlier. And that’s why the Church singles out March 25 as the Solemnity of the Annunciation – the day when Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel. Is it any wonder why the Church is pro-life? We celebrate the conception of Jesus, which was memorialized in the Gospel passage from Luke, above. And we also celebrate the conception of Mary on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. We even recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit when John the Baptist leapt in his mother’s womb.