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Easter Annunciation spotlights Mary: the 1st ‘Easter Woman’

Papież Jan Paweł II w Fatimie

NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP

Tom Hoopes - published on 04/08/24

When he pronounced us an “Easter people” in 1986, St. John Paul said this new life “demands a readiness to say with Mary: ‘Be it done unto me according to thy word.’”

I love it when the Solemnity of the Annunciation falls on the Monday after the Easter Octave ends, which happens any time March 25 falls in Holy Week or Easter Week.

It feels like an extra Easter Day because Our Lady is closely associated with Easter.

After all, if we are “an Easter people” then Mary was the first “Easter woman.” 

St. John Paul II famously said, “We are an Easter people and ‘Alleluia’ is our song.”

He said it on more than one occasion, and the more you look at how he explained it, the more one person emerges: Mary.

One thing that would make her the first Easter person is if she was the first one to see the Resurrection. The Church doesn’t teach definitively that this happened, but John Paul thought so.

But even if Mary wasn’t the first to see the Resurrection, she was the first to live it.

Easter Joy is not just joy that Jesus’s story had a happy ending, and not just joy that we will rise one day, but joy that we can “walk in newness of life.” 

The first thing the Resurrection does for Christians is “open for us the way to a new life,” a life of grace, says the Catechism.

When he pronounced us an “Easter people” in 1986, St. John Paul said this new life “demands a readiness to say with Mary: ‘Be it done unto me according to thy word.’”

The Risen Life we get at Easer is the life “Mary, full of grace” already lived — a life that fulfills the hope of the Our Father that his will “be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

A third way Mary is the first “Easter woman” is that she was the first adopted member of God’s family.

The next thing the Resurrection does, according to the Catechism, is “bring about filial adoption,” making us adopted sons and daughters of God. In baptism, we die and rise with Christ, and thereby “gain a real share in the life of the only Son.”

When he talks about our adoption as sons and daughters of God, St. Paul points to Mary. The Fathers of the Church call Mary “the Mother of the living,” repeating, “Death through Eve, life through Mary.”

If to be Easter people means being good adoptive sons and daughters of God, then Mary is the great Easter woman, since “By her complete adherence to the Father’s will, to his Son’s redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church’s model of faith and charity.”

Fourth, Mary is also the first “Easter woman” because she has already shared in the resurrection.

The last thing the resurrection does is give us the promise of life after death. “Christ’s resurrection — and the risen Christ Himself — is the principle and source of our future resurrection,” says the Catechism.

We already know what that looks like, because it happened to the Blessed Mother.  “The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians,” says the Catechism

Our body will enter heaven one day just like hers.

Last, if “Alleluia is our song,” it’s usually because we’re singing the Regina Caeli.

“Queen of heaven rejoice, alleluia!” begins the Easter hymn that Catholics sing more than any other, since the Regina Caeli takes the place of the Angelus, and is prayed at 6 am, noon, and 6 pm daily. 

When St. John Paul II told Black Americans in the first year of his pontificate that “We are Easter people and alleluia is our song,” he said that “Joy is the keynote of the Christian message,” starting from when the angel told Mary, “Rejoice, O full of grace, the Lord is with you” and continuing in our day. 

He instructed us to.

“Rejoice because Jesus has come into the world! …
Rejoice because he rose again from the dead! …
Rejoice because Jesus has come to set us free!
And rejoice because he is the master of our life!”

… And do it for one more day, after the Easter Octave, for the Solemnity of the Annunciation.

Tags:
Devotions and FeastsSpiritual LifeVirgin Mary
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