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.
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." In this time of trouble, this word will not trouble us, for we need it. This grace that God gave to Mary also came with its consequences, and Mary wanted to take it on. How many of us are prepared to take on the consequences of our commitments?
"Do not be afraid" is an assurance, for God will take you and do everything for you, so that everything goes well for you. Yet not everything will be revealed to Mary. She will discover them bit by bit, from Joseph, Simeon and Anna, etc. There will certainly be the other surprises that Mary will welcome with joy and she will put them in her heart to contemplate them. For a young girl to carry all this is already beyond her years.
Mary did not ask for a sign, yet God gives her a sign in her cousin Elizabeth. In these signs God already reveals all that this child will accomplish. He will take the throne of David, without his powers or authority. Who would want all this without recognition, without authority, etc.? Mary will accept it in her humility.
The Holy Spirit, who has descended in Mary, begins to work now, even Mary is not aware. God is always active in the world, through the impulses of the Holy Spirit. He is always active, even in us. It is up to us to decide to let Him work in us.
"Here is the Servant of the Lord" is a total submission to the divine will. Let us pray on this day of the consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, that politicians and civil servants will listen to this call for peace and reconciliation and work unceasingly for the good of the whole world. Amen.
Action of the day: Be filled with grace.
“Hail, full of grace!”
Fr. Johannes VILAR
Today, in the “Hail, full of grace!” (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 brought a special message for young people: “Reawaken 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.