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.
I must admit that it is difficult for me with my sensitivity, especially in this Lenten season, as we approach Holy Week, to interpret this Gospel of the day in joy. It is difficult for me because I prepare for the passion. I think you agree with me.
Yet we must recognise that our joy must travel a path of passion, this passion will leard us towards the joy and Mary did, so that she could become our mother. The greeting of 'full of grace' had a purpose, and it is a divine recognition that assures us at the same time that God needs us.
Every divine encounter brings us grace and at the same time it entrusts us with a mission to accomplish, for every grace has a purpose to be fulfilled. Mary will bear a child and her Son will give us his Mother. The promise made to the angel, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord", she continues to respect. She still accompanies us today through the various Marian apparitions. May our fidelity to the faith, in the image of our Mother, make the divine grace, full of grace, shine in us and in our community.
Action of the day : Be open to the message of the angel.
«Hail, full of grace!»
Fr. Johannes VILAR
Today, during the «Hail, full of grace!» salutation (Lk 1:28) we hear for the first time the name of the Mother of God: Mary (Archangel Gabriel’s second phrase). She has the fullness of grace and the gifts. It is said like this: "keharitoméne", «full of grace» (Angel’s greeting).
15 years old and alone, Mary has to answer in a way that will change the full history of mankind. Saint Bernard pleaded: «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).
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said during 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: here is an example!
And Saint Joseph is also included in God’s plans: he has to accept taking Mary as his wife and name her son (cf. Mt 1:20s): Jesua, "the Lord saves". And He does it. Another example!
The Annunciation also reveals the Trinity: The Father sends the Son, incarnated by the Holy Spirit. And the Church sings: «And the Word becomes flesh today and makes his dwelling among us». His redeeming work —Christmas, Good Friday, Easter— is present in this seed. He is Immanuel, «God with us» (cf. Is 7:15). Rejoice Humanity!
The festivities of Saint Joseph and the Annunciation prepare us excellently to celebrate the Paschal Mystery.