Saturday 25 June 2011
In the town of Nazareth, in the north of Israel, stands the beautiful stone structure of the Basilica of the Annunciation. It is built on the suggested site of the house of Mary, before she was married.
The house where Gabriel came and, without knocking or raising a sound, went in.
Like any other street in any other dusty town in the Galilean hills, life went on. People walking to and fro about their business: to work, to the well, to the market, to the workshop of Joseph, Mary’s betrothed, just across the street.
Surely, this is the talk of the moment, the marriage of the young girl to that nice craftsman who will look after her, a good match.
Bustle and busyness; the subtle but unobtrusive noise… of life.
Into human life comes the Most High… the Other, the Transcendent, the power and glory of the Lord.
Still the sounds of life are undisturbed and God’s messenger, the “Strength of God”, enters her house without commotion.
‘And a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.’
Our salvation begins with a whisper, ‘Hail, O favoured one.’
And yet, this is not a metaphor but an event. It is not a civilisation’s guiding myth, but history – else we are not redeemed.
Standing in the shadow of the Basilica, in a town in Galilee called Nazareth, you can read the affirmation of God’s enfleshment in time and place.
The inscription above the church door reads:
Verbum caro hic factum est. ‘And the Word was made flesh, here.’