Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!
|Behold, the Handmaid of the Lord|
The fullness of time has come. At last, God sends his Son, born of a woman. The gospel records this joyful moment. The angel Gabriel was sent to the Virgin Mary whom he greeted with the words: “Rejoice, full of grace.” Mary has every reason to rejoice because through the angel, the Lord comes knocking at the door of her heart. The words of the angel to her are a Divine invitation to open her heart to accept God’s Son into her womb. Remember what the Fathers of old said: Before Mary conceived Christ in her womb, she conceived him in her heart. Mary had to accept the Divine Proposal first before the Incarnation could take place. Her free consent, her loving obedience of faith, was necessary for the Holy Spirit to fructify her womb. The Son of God lovingly submitted to his Father’s will: Behold, I come to do your will. Mary also had to lovingly submit to the same will: Behold, the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to your word.
Two humble submissions bring about the most decisive encounter between God and man. God the Son lowered himself. The Virgin met him in this abasement. Lowering himself, the Son became man’s salvation. Humbling herself, the Virgin became God’s mother. God the Son emptied himself and shared our humanity’s poverty. In that abasement, Mary encountered Christ and welcomed him into her life through her own humility…she called herself “handmaid of the Lord.” And where man encounters God, there is joy. Pope Francis wrote: “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.” (Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 1.)
Here is the proclamation of the Gospel: “Christ is the ‘eternal Gospel’ (Rev 14:6); he ‘is the same yesterday and today and forever’ (Heb 13:8), yet his riches and beauty are inexhaustible. He is for ever young and a constant source of newness. The Church never fails to be amazed at ‘the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God’ (Rom 11:33)… Saint Irenaeus writes: ‘By his coming, Christ brought with him all newness’. ”(EG, 11.) At the Annunciation, we clearly see the Divine initiative. It is God who comes down to man. It is he who announces to us the Good News. “Jesus is ‘the first and greatest evangelizer’. In every activity of evangelization, the primacy always belongs to God, who has called us to cooperate with him and who leads us on by the power of his Spirit. The real newness is the newness which God himself mysteriously brings about and inspires, provokes, guides and accompanies in a thousand ways. The life of the Church should always reveal clearly that God takes the initiative, that ‘he has loved us first’ (1 Jn 4:19) and that he alone ‘gives the growth’ (1 Cor 3:7). This conviction enables us to maintain a spirit of joy in the midst of a task so demanding and challenging that it engages our entire life. God asks everything of us, yet at the same time he offers everything to us.” (EG, 12.)
God asked everything of Mary, yet at the same time he offered everything to her. In like manner, the Lord asks of us our total submission. He asks everything of us. But this is nothing as compared to what he offers us. In return for our offering, he gives us all of himself. He gives us himself, so that his joy may be ours and our joy may be complete.
Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.