Tomorrow, we celebrate one of the great solemnities in honor of the Blessed Mother, The Annunciation. The Annunciation is the announcement from God through the Angel Gabriel to Mary that she will bear and conceive a son through the intercession of the Holy Spirit, her Divine Spouse. The Gospel reading for his day comes from the Gospel of Saint Luke 1:26-38, which says,
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.
Out of the seven words spoken by the Blessed Virgin Mary in all the Scriptures, two of the words are here at the Annunciation. Although both are important, for today, I would like focus on the second of the two – “may it be done to me according to your word.”
Simply, this is Mary’s affirmation and Yes to God’s plan for her life. Without thinking about it or asking for more time from the Angel, Mary gives her complete consent to be the Mother of God (Theotokos – God-Bearer), which begins her mission of redemption as Co-Redemptrix (co = not equal, but subordinate).
Here at the Annunciation, Mary doesn’t only become the great Mother of God, but she becomes the New Ark of the Covenant. As the Holy Cloud descended upon the Tent of Meeting where the Ark of the Covenant was kept in the Old Testament, so we see the Holy Spirit descend and “overshadow” Mary, the New Ark of the Covenant in the New Testament. Along with her Fiat (her YES), the supernatural world synthesizes with the natural world bringing to us the Son of Man.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger says in Et Incarnatus Est De Spiritu Sancto, “Her Yes becomes the meeting place in which God obtains dwelling in the world. God, who does not dwell in buildings of stone, dwells in this Yes with body and soul…” Hans Urs Von Balthasar says, “…in order to be the Mother of the messianic Son of God, who can have no other Father than God, she must be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, and she must say to that overshadowing a Yes that includes her whole person, both body and soul” (Mary in the Church’s Doctrine and Devotion).
God asks us to answer him with our free will. God does not command his creatures to do things against their will, but it is through our consent and “yes” that God works. Mary’s Fiat had to be of her own consent and free from restrictions. Mary’s free consent is rooted in the absence of original sin, her Immaculate Conception. It is through the grace that she receives at her conception, which allows her to answer completely and freely. Without this free consent, God does become man. Mary’s Fiat is soaked in the grace that she receives at her conception. Mary does not act solely as a human being, but through God’s divine plan is set free from sin before she is even born.
Even though we are born with the generational sin of our first parents, we too like Mary, must say Yes to God. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we receive the grace necessary that allows us to be open to hearing God’s call and saying Yes to Him. Baptism is not a “one and done” sacrament, but continues to provide grace to us throughout our lives this side of Heaven. God will not give us more than we can handle and will not force us to do anything against our free will.
As faithful Catholic Christians, we must learn to take on the Marian principle we read about in the Sacred Scriptures. The Church is Marian before she is Petrine. As important is the Petrine principle, the Marian principle allows for the Petrine to exist. It’s Her Fiat that allows redemption and salvation to occur.
So as we celebrate the great solemnity of the Annunciation and hear the words of consent by the Blessed Virgin Mary to the Angel Gabriel, let us give praise and thanksgiving for Mary’s Fiat. Like our Blessed Mother, let us be open to all that God calls upon us to do each day of our lives and say to him with great strength and consent – “May it be done to me according to your word.”