“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.”(Luke 1:28)
The angel Gabriel’s words are powerful and perplexing for the Blessed Mother. The teenager Mary was frightened by the angel’s message, so he offered the assurance that she need not be afraid as she had found favor with God. Despite the initial fear and confusion about the possibility of conceiving a child before living with Joseph, the angel’s further assurance that the Holy Spirit would overshadow her prompted her fiat, that is, her “Yes”, and Jesus became incarnate in her womb. Mary’s ready acceptance of God’s will accounts for the first Marian dogma, or concrete Catholic belief, that Mary is indeed the Mother of God. How awesome is Mary’s trust in God that she accepted this singular responsibility; remember she was a teenager expecting a child!
The Blessed Mother’s ready acceptance of God’s will had marked the beginning of her sacrificial life. We know of her many sorrows beginning with the prophecy of Simeon at Jesus’ Presentation in the Temple, and culminating in Mary’s receiving Jesus’ body at the foot of the Cross on Good Friday. Mary’s fiat was truly a leap of faith, as she could not know the sacrifices to come for Jesus and for her. As priests offer sacrifices, so Mary had fully cooperated in Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. Father Domenico Bertetto, a Salesian Mariologist, connects Mary as Mother of Jesus and the associate to the Redemption, as she was consecrated as a priest by her fiat at the Annunciation. Father M. Llamera, another Mariologist, asserts that Mary’s life, beginning with being Jesus’ mother at the Annunciation, and culminating in her presence at Calvary was consacrificial. Mary’s identity as a priest is superior to the common priesthood and the ministerial priesthood, that is, of the baptized and the ordained.
We may think ourselves radically different from our Blessed Mother, who had conceived and birthed Jesus, the Flame of Love. While no other woman was worthy to carry Jesus in her womb, and Mary was “full of grace”, we are not radically different from Mary. While no one of us is sinless, we are capable of less sinning. While no one of us is capable of being a priest as Mary was, by baptism we are priests (common priesthood), and I am blessed to represent Jesus as a ministerial priest. While no one of us can claim “suffering with” Jesus as His mother did, we can unite our sufferings with Christ when we are given but a small share in Jesus’ sufferings, and turn to Mary for maternal consolation. Nothing is impossible with God; Jesus reveals who He really is, and Mary, our spiritual mother, always asks her Son to shower graces upon us; we are not “full of grace” as Mary was, but we trust that we will not be lacking in all we need.
Peace and blessings,
Father Mike Davis