The Way of Beauty
THEME: The Incarnation
FOCUS OF THE MEDITATION: God's love for us is infinite. Jesus became human, a newborn babe, in order to open the path to heaven for us. The Word became flesh and dwells among us. May we come to appreciate the humble love of Jesus, who took on flesh to carry us to God.
Federico Fiori (known as Barocci)
Vatican Museums’ Pinacoteca
"Now we begin to focus our meditation on the concrete events in the life of Christ and the Holy Family. Learn to contemplate these events as if you are physically present in the Gospel narrative.”
"The Annunciation is one of the richest and most decisive moments of God's action in salvation history, for this is the moment we are first told of the Incarnation—the Word became flesh."
"Barocci portrays the angel kneeling before the Virgin, signifying God's humility. Gabriel is one of the most powerful angels in heaven. This is the messenger whom God selected to deliver the most critical word to God's people through Mary of Nazareth."
"Notice the angel's pose—as a lover proposing to his beloved, or a knight before a maiden. The divine emissary genuflects in an imploring and respectful gesture."
"See how Mary steps back in uncertainty, with her two hands held up, steadying her as she prepares to respond to the will of God. She takes a moment before responding, with her hands opened as if to form a window into her heart."
"In the silence of Mary's heart, God's plan took shape. For no one knew God's plan when it was revealed to Mary. Yet her response sealed our common destinies: Fiat mini secundum verbum tumum. Be it done unto me according to thy word."
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
And he came to her and said, "Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!"
But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.
And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end."
And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?"
And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible."
And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
PRAYER AND REFLECTION
"Spend time with the Scripture reading that began this meditation. Enter the scene in Nazareth, exploring your senses as you watch the annunciation unfold. Tune in to the voice of God as you meditate upon this Momentous event in salvation history."
The comments above are taken from Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. To truly enter into this Visio Divina, I suggest purchasing the book as each masterpiece comes with a complete description, prayer and reflection, and spiritual exercise.