In Lent we are headed to the Cross. In our tradition the Cross is greatly emphasized, and with good reason. The Cross is where Christ meets the enemies in battle. The one sacrifice for all time is the redemption of the world. The crucifixion reminds us of the Father's great love and the Son's great sacrifice for sin. Without the Cross there is no salvation. Without the Cross there is no Resurrection. We preach Christ and Him crucified.
Yesterday's Feast of the Annunciation took us back briefly to the Incarnation (a little Christ-mass in Lent?). For one day in Lent the purple was exchanged for white and the focus was on the mysterious and miraculous birth of our Lord through Mary, the blessed ever-Virgin. For with God nothing is impossible.
It is puzzling, as I have heard in recent years, the Incarnation and the Cross pitted against one another, with the former being the one downplayed if not disparaged. Scripture and the faithful Tradition do not do this. Rather one precedes the other and without either there is neither, but both are equally the works of God.
Lent is possible because of the Incarnation. The Cross is the direction of the Incarnation. In the Holy Eucharist we proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. It has also been stated that "The Holy Communion is the continuation of the Incarnation." (The Presence, 43)
In the greatest miracle Jesus became one of us and dwelt with us. The Angel announces that Mary is "blessed among women." She responds to grace, "be it done to me according to thy word." The Crucified One is called "Emmanuel," "the Son of the Most High." "the Son of God." He says, "not my will, but Thine be done." We look ahead to the Cross and the Resurrection, not forgetting that the grace and blessing given to Mary is also poured out on us through the one-time Sacrifice, which is eternal. The Angel Gabriel announced to Mary, "And of His kingdom there shall be no end." At the Feast the Incarnate One gives us a foretaste of things to come.