“From Mary we learn to surrender to God's will in all things. From Mary, we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary, we learn to love Christ, her Son and the Son of God. For Mary is not only the Mother of God, she is Mother of the Church as well.” – Pope John Paul II
Gospel text (Lk 1:26-38):
The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth ,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.
Today, we celebrate the feast of the Annunciation of our Lord. With the angel Gabriel's announcement and Mary's acceptance of the explicit divine will of incarnating in her womb, God assumes the human condition and nature —«in everything equal to us, except for sin»— to exalt and elevate us as his sons and have us, thus, as partakers of his divine nature.
Perhaps 15 years old and alone, Mary has to answer in a way that will change the full history of mankind. Saint Bernard pleaded: «Behold, the price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life». God is awaiting an uninhibited response, and the "full of grace", representing all of us needing Redemption, responds: "génoitó", become! As of today, Mary is freely linked to the Work of her Son; today her Mediation begins. As of today, she is the Mother of those who are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28).
At the heart of the scriptural word for today’s liturgy is the call to every human to disclose God’s presence and plan in creation by seeking and doing God’s will on earth. The salvation of the created order depends upon its obedience to God’s plan for it. If there is any great truth in the mythic story of the “Fall” in Genesis it is that humans refused (and still often refuse) to do God’s will. The core of human sin is not about sex, it is not about consumption, or a host of other possibilities. The sin of the human race that brings about its destruction as well as our seeming enmity from one another and the rest of creation is our refusal to do God’s will.
Benedict XVI was saying in an interview: «[I would like] to reawake the courage to make definitive decisions: they are really the only ones that allow us to grow, to move ahead and to reach something great in life. They are the only decisions that do not destroy our freedom but offer to point us in the right direction. Risk making this leap, so to speak, towards the definitive and so embrace life fully: this is something I would be happy to communicate to them». Mary: behold an example!
What is it that modern man runs from and cannot face? Fear. What do we call the greatest “criminals” of our time? Terrorists – purveyors of fear. If we can turn and face and endure the depth of our fear we become open to discover what it is that God asks. Most often, as St. Ignatius of Loyola discovered, the divine will is already embedded in our own deepest desires, in our talents, our training, our opportunities, and the needs of those we love – but hidden to us under fear.
I sometimes feel the breath catch in my throat when I try to sing the response to the first reading today: “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will” but I know that Grace makes it possible to both sing it and mean what I sing. Grace grants the wisdom to perceive God’s desire, the courage to follow it, the joy that springs from it – the life of the Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven