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  • Writer's pictureOmar Gutierrez

A Time of Rebirth, a Time for Feasting: The Annunciation

Have you ever wondered what time of year it was when the world was created? I mean, what month was it? What day even? Well, if you have wondered this, you’re not alone. The Jewish people wondered this too, and they came to a conclusion based on the holy Scriptures and on their traditions.

 

Let’s start in Exodus. After all else had failed to convince the Pharoah to let the Hebrew people go, Moses and his brother Aaron received the instructions for the Passover in Exodus 12:

 

He said "This month will stand at the head of your calendar; you will reckon it the first month of the year. Tell the whole community of Israel: On the tenth of this month every family must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household. …. You will keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then, with the whole community of Israel assembled, it will be slaughtered during the evening twilight."

 

The month referred to is the month of Nisan. And, according to the Jewish traditions found in the Talmud, this is also the month that, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were born and passed away. Now, the fourteenth day in the month of Nisan was the day when the lamb was to be slaughtered for the first Passover. But there was another important event in Jewish history that happened on the 14th day of Nisan. 


Recall the story of Abraham, who, with his wife Sarah, miraculously had a child after so many years of infertility. That child was Isaac, but in Genesis 22 the Lord tells Abraham to sacrifice their son. Obedient, Abraham takes Isaac and they travel for three days until the Lord points out to him Mount Moriah where the sacrifice will take place. Isaac asks his father “where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” And Abraham replies “My son, God will provide the sheep for the burnt offering.” He is about to strike Isaac, but the Lord sends an angel, staying his hand and saying “Do not lay your hand on the boy.”

 

What day did this crucial event take place? According to Jewish tradition it was the 14th day of Nisan, the same day that the slaughter of the lambs for that first Passover in Egypt was to take place. The 14th day of Nisan was so important for the people of Israel that when they asked themselves what was the date of creation they reasoned that it must have been on the fourteenth day of Nisan. 


What does that have to do with today? In our calendar the 14th day of Nisan is March 25th and when the early Christians, so many of whom were Jewish, wished to commemorate this date they eventually decided that it should mark the first day of the new creation, the first day of the creation of a new heaven and a new earth, the day that God became man, the day that the savior of the world was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary. In the Christian tradition, in both East and West, March 25th is the Solemnity of the Annunciation.

 


This year, because of Holy Week and Easter Week, the Solemnity was moved to April 8th.

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