|Photo courtesy of Patheos|
I was reading my morning prayers and meditation and was struck by something that I suppose I must have heard over and over before, but this morning it resonated like a newly discovered truth: There was no fear in Mary. Now, being visited by an angel has got to be astounding, can't say for sure myself. But, from what has been written in Scripture and by countless saints regarding angels, it is an awesome and ecstatic event. Yet, Mary, pure of heart, knelt before the Archangel Gabriel, and without fear inquired about how she might come to be the Theotokos.
Step inside that event for a second:
You are Mary. You are young. You are simple and pure. You have been raised by wonderful and holy parents. We don't know that they are aware or if you are aware of your difference among your peers. Maybe because of your spiritual perfection you have suffered some ridicule or been admonished for your desire to remain untainted by the world. Yet, when the angel comes and suggests that something outside of the moral standard would be required of you, you don't cower; although he does remind that you should not fear. That reminder is because the visit of an angel is a fearsome thing, not because you are afraid of what he might want. And so, you recognize without a doubt the messenger from God. There is no question in your heart other than how it should come to be, your reason is working with your faith to make sense of the situation. But, even in the midst of what others might have immediate concern about -- their own reputation -- you simply say, "Fiat". You will is so tethered to the Father, that when He announces your participation in the Incarnation, you are ready and willing. You delight in being His handmaid, you delight in doing His will. And, that delight is a pure and generous consolation to you because what is about to happen to you is riddled with uncertainty and pain. The trials that you are about to encounter in participation with the will of God would crush any other person. You have been prepared from the moment of your Immaculate Conception for this level of participation. Not forced, but prepared. Not coerced, but chosen and free to offer your consent.
Pope St. John Paul II said this in his marvelous work Redemptoris Mater about the Annunciation:
The Annunciation, therefore, is the revelation of the mystery of the Incarnation at the very beginning of its fulfillment on earth. God's salvific giving of himself and his life, in some way to all creation but directly to man, reaches one of its high points in the mystery of the Incarnation. This is indeed a high point among all the gifts of grace conferred in the history of man and of the universe: Mary is "full of grace," because it is precisely in her that the Incarnation of the Word, the hypostatic union of the Son of God with human nature, is accomplished and fulfilled. As the Council says, Mary is "the Mother of the Son of God. As a result she is also the favorite daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Because of this gift of sublime grace, she far surpasses all other creatures, both in heaven and on earth" (RM 9).Ahh, thank you, Sweet Virgin, for your YES and for understanding the message of the angel so clearly and with full faith and consent. Thank you for having not even a moment's hesitation in bringing Our Savior into the world, for giving Him life, for nurturing Him and training Him for the duty he had before Him. Thank you for being ever present to Him with your humble spouse St. Joseph, for being the model exemplar of what makes a Holy Family. Thank you for never doubting your role in the Incarnation which places you higher than all other created beings. Thank you for being Our Mother, too.
Blessed Solemnity of the Annunciation! Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!