Today as we celebrate the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Luke (1:26-38) in which Mary, after being visited by Angel Gabriel with a message from God, responds saying ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me’. Fr Paul says this solemnity was first celebrated around the 4th or 5th century. This feast of the Annunciation has had a couple of different names during its history. It was also called the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, now it is known as the Annunciation of the Lord. Fr Paul says for us as Christians, this solemnity celebrates that the Angel Gabriel who we hear of in the Gospel comes to the Virgin Mary and gives her the news that she will conceive and bear a son – a son who will be holy and will be called ‘Jesus’. When the Angel comes with this intention and shares the message with Mary she willingly consents – here I am the servant of the Lord, let it be done with me according to thy word. And, thus, the incarnation of Christ begins as does the redemption of the world.If you are wondering why we celebrate this solemnity on this particular day, 25 March, Fr Paul notes that it is nine months until we celebrate Christmas on 25 December and so we celebrate this conception today nine months before we celebrate the birth of Christ. Before closing Fr Paul shares the Holy Father, Pope Francis’s, request that people throughout the world pray with him to consecrate the Ukraine and Russia to Our Lady, the Immaculate Heart of Mary and we so join the rest of the world in praying:Prayer for Peace and Justice in the UkraineGod of peace and justice,Who change the hardened heart and break the power of violence,We entrust the people of Ukraine to you.Protect them in this time of peril;Let them know not death but life, not slavery but freedom.You are Father of all; we are brothers and sisters.Give us the strength to live that truth in love, choosing peace not war.We ask this prayer through Christ our Lord.AmenThe Immaculate Heart of Mary, Pray for us!