.- Greeting thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square on this, the last Sunday of March, Pope Benedict XVI used the occasion to remind those present that Sunday marks both the Feast of the Annunciation and the Fifth Sunday of Lent.
Focusing his comments on the Annunciation, the Pope began by telling those present that "The Annunciation, found in the beginning of the Gospel of Luke, was a humble, hidden event. Nobody saw it and nobody knew about it except Mary."
Nevertheless, he emphasized, the Annunciation "is at the same time a decisive event in human history."
With this event, the Word of God became incarnate and a "new era of history began." The Holy Father drew a parallel between Mary's "Yes" to the Angel and Jesus' "Yes" to His Father's Will, saying, "The 'Yes' of Mary is a perfect reflection of the Christ's 'Yes' when He enters the world."
This "Yes" can be found in the Letter to the Hebrew's interpretation of Psalm 39, he continued, where it is written that, "I come, O God, to do Thy Will." Because of this, "The Annunciation is also a Christological Feast Day, because it celebrates a central mystery of Christ: His Incarnation."
According to the Pope, "Mary's response to the Angel is undertaken by the Church, which is called to make Christ present throughout history." Additionally, the "Yes" of the Saints, "especially the martyrs," renews the "Yes" of Jesus and Mary. This is why the Church chooses March 24th to "celebrate the Day of Prayer and Penance for Martyr Missionaries."
The Martyr Missionaries, he continued, "are the 'hope of the world' because they testify that Christ's love is stronger than violence and hate." Christian martyrs do not seek to be killed, "but they are ready to give their lives to remain faithful to the Gospel."
The Pope concluded his Angelus address by asking the faithful to contemplate "the Madonna who, on Calvary, is a sign of the 'Yes' given in Nazareth." He then prayed for her intercession, "so that the Church may be faithful to its mission and give the world courageous testimony of the love of God."