Feast of the Annunciation — the Day Christ Died

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by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  March 22, 2017   

The day Mary conceived Christ in her womb was the same day she laid Him in the tomb

Most Catholics know the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary on March 25, which resulted in the Incarnation. Many Catholics are unaware, however, that so much else has occurred on March 25 — from Abraham attempting to sacrifice his son Isaac to the Heavenly Father sacrificing his Son Jesus.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in his 2000 book Spirit of the Liturgy wrote, "Jewish tradition gave the date of March 25 to Abraham's sacrifice. ... It was also considered, very early on, as the day of Christ's death and eventually as the day of His conception."

The day the Blessed Mother said "yes" to God and received her Divine Son into her womb was the same day 33 years later that she laid her Son's body in the tomb.


Luke's Gospel records the event of the archangel Gabriel coming to Mary's home in Nazareth, announcing to her that she would conceive in her womb the "Son of the most High." That's why the feast is called the Annunciation. It's been celebrated annually at least since 431A.D. when the Council of Ephesus declared Mary as the Mother of God.

Upon Mary's consent — "Be it done to me according to thy word" — the Incarnation took place. Christ, the second Person of the blessed Trinity, clothed Himself with humanity, Body and Soul, in Mary's womb. The union of divine and human nature into the one Person of Christ is called theologically the hypostatic union.

The dual events of the Annunciation and Incarnation on March 25 took place, as one would expect, exactly nine months before the birth of Christ on December 25. Few Catholics know, however, of the ancient tradition that has Good Friday in 33 A.D. — the year Our Lord died — falling on this same day of the Annunciation and Incarnation.

Good Friday coincides with the Jewish passover on 14 Nisan of the Hebrew calendar, according to Exodus 12:18 and  John 13:1. Scripture scholars like Tertullian in the year 200 had already calculated that 14 Nisan, the day Jesus died on the Cross, was equivalent to March 25 in the Roman calendar.

According to Jewish tradition, it was necessary for Jesus to die on the same day He was conceived in order to be considered a true prophet. As the historian William Tighe wrote, "The 'integral age' of the great Jewish prophets" meant that "the prophets of Israel died on the same dates as their birth or conception."

Watch the panel discuss the many mysteries occurring on March 25 in The Download—The Annunciation.

 

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Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.

Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th. is a staff writer for ChurchMilitant.com.

Follow Bradley on Twitter: @BradleyLEli