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Ordained in 2011, Father Friel served for five years as Parochial Vicar at St. Anselm Parish in Northeast Philly. He is currently studying toward a doctorate in liturgical theology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
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“Except the psalms or canonical Scriptures of the new and old Testaments, nothing composed poetically shall be sung in church, as the holy canons command.”
— Council of Braga, 563AD

Sin & Error Pining
published 18 December 2011 by Fr. David Friel

The Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Advent this year tells the story of the Annunciation—the most astounding event in all of human history. And it is a dramatic story.

From the time of Adam & Eve to the time of Mary & Joseph, mankind had suffered under the burden of original sin. There had been no satisfactory remedy for it. Humanity had original sin, which is an infinite debt, but no way to pay it back, since all of us are finite beings. Jesus, being the Son of God from before all time, was infinite and therefore had the power to pay the debt. But He was a divine Person, not a human being. If only somehow Jesus, the infinite divine God, could become a man, there would finally be a way to rescue mankind from original sin.

So God devised this plan. He sent an angel, named Gabriel, to appear to a teenage girl, named Mary. The angel went on to tell Mary not to be afraid, for, “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son.” (To say the young girl was surprised would be an understatement.) “How can this be?” she asked. After Gabriel explained the situation a bit further, Mary uttered the most fantastic response: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

Right then, in that moment, the world was changed. Mary said, Fiat!, and all of a sudden, we were never the same. God asked Mary to give Him a human nature, and she said, “Yes, be it done unto me!” Jesus was conceived in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, and God truly became man. That’s what we mean when we pray in our new creed: “For us men and for our salvation, He came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”

At last there was a divine Person with a human nature! He was divine so that He could pay an infinite debt. He was human so that He could pay it on our behalf—as “one of us.” The long, sad story of brokenness and sin that began with Adam & Eve had finally come to an end. “Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ‘til He appeared.”

The Annunciation was, without a doubt, the most astounding moment in all of human history. But it was not a singular event. That is, it wasn’t an unrepeatable event. Quite the contrary, in fact.

Every single day, God says to us, “Hail Susan,” “Hail Frank,” “Hail Theresa,” “Hail Stephen,” “Hail Joan,” “Hail David, full of grace!” He asks men & women the world over, “Will you give me a human nature? Just as Mary said, ‘Yes,’ and gave my Son, Jesus, a human nature, will you let Me have your human nature? May I use you, in your humanity, to make known the glory of My Name?”

Can you sense the drama? The “world in silent stillness waits” for us to respond, “Yes . . . be it done unto me!”