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The first Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation

Friday, June 20, 2014
The first Joyful mystery draws our attention to the very first moments of Jesus’s life when Mary gave her consent to the marriage of humanity and divinity in her womb and conceived by the Holy Spirit. 

Traditionally the Church has seen in Mary’s obedience and Jesus’s Incarnation the beginnings of the undoing of the disharmony between God and humanity caused by the sin of Adam and Eve. Irenaeus, for example, suggested that as the first man was carved from the dust of the Earth and had an earthly breathe breathed into him, Jesus – who was both God and Man – would re-mould human nature through his own sacred humanity in order to prepare humanity to receive the Divine breathe of the Holy Spirit: God became man, in order that man might become like God.

Later thinkers such as St. Thomas Aquinas would see Mary’s consent, ‘let it be done to me according to thy word’, as an acceptance of this recreation in Christ on behalf of the whole of humanity. We see in the first Joyful mystery, then, two examples of an important principle in Catholic theology realized in Jesus’s salvific Incarnation and Mary’s obedience and consent: human nature plays its part in the work of salvation, but at the same time the total power of effecting that salvation comes from God.

Nicholas Crowe OP


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