Yesterday was the feast of the Annunciation, one of the major holy days of the Christian year. Only one reading in the Daily Office Lectionary was specially altered to befit the day, however. (This is my main disappointment with this particular lectionary, that it provides only scant observance of the major holy days, often offering only one special reading, and even then often doubling one of the readings from the Communion service.) But what we did have was an interesting “accidental” convergence of topics. The evening reading yesterday was from Ephesians 5, and this evening finishes that chapter. Because it’s the Daily Office Lectionary we’re able (and ought) to read these lessons in the context of the whole book; but in this instance we’re able to read it also in the context the Annunciation.
How does this help?
The strict call to holiness in the first half of chapter 5 leading into the beautiful description of marriage in the second half take an extra sense of oomph with the Annunciation fresh on our minds. There were have the angel telling Mary that’s she’s a “grace-filled one” (full of grace in Catholic translations, favored one in Protestant translations). There we have Mary offering her fiat to the New Creation – “fiat mihi…” = “be it unto me…” There we have her virginity intact, and her betrothal to Joseph. In short, she is modeling almost everything we see in Ephesians 5.
Whether you go on to believe the historic Marian doctrines or not – her perpetual virginity, her sinless life by God’s grace, her bodily assumption into heaven – at least this moment of the Annunciation sheds a great deal of light on her and her husband-to-be. They’re called the Holy Family… Christ was literally present in the marriage of Joseph and Mary, and in their life together.
So consider keeping this extra context in mind as you read the rest of Ephesians 5 tonight. You may just discover a newfound respect and devotion regarding our Lady! And for some this may finally be that breakthrough in understanding the difference between the veneration of the Saints and the worship of God.