In scripture, whenever Mary is exalted or honored, she doesn’t want to be the center because she wants God to be the center. Who honors her? Not just anybody – an archangel is the first to honor her at the Annunciation. If you were to examine in scripture of every time an angel appeared to humanity, it was always at a pivotal moment in salvation history, when God was allowing his covenant of love to unfold and deepen. To concretely establish this relationship, an angel would prepare the way and serve as agent of His will.
Whenever an angel appeared, the human person that he was appearing to would prostrate on the floor. That person would think he was in the presence of God because the angel was so much more beautiful, more magnificent, and more luminous than anything that he had ever seen before. He did not think he could look at God face to face in His presence, and felt that he was unworthy of beholding such beauty. Every time, a person prostrated on the floor, the angel would ask him to get up, and say ‘I’m not God. Don’t worship me. Get up.’ And the angel would give a message.
Here, in the fullness of time, when the Son of God was meant to go into the world through a woman’s womb, an angel appears to Mary, and he genuflects. The angel honors her with the highest salutation possible. He doesn’t even call her by her earthly birth name. He calls her by who she is in God’s eyes – the only one who is full of grace, full of the goodness of grace. He looks at her with awe and essentially says, ‘Wow!’ – ‘Hail full of grace.’
Mary doesn’t powder her nose and say ‘Oh I know,’ but she immediately asks, ‘Who are you? What do you want?’ The angel says, ‘Actually, God wants something, and you won’t believe what He wants from you. He wants you to be the mother of the Messiah that you have been waiting for and praying about. He has chosen you to be the mother of the Messiah.’
She responds, ‘You must have the wrong girl. God knows I made a vow to Him to be a virgin to God for the rest of my life. How could I possibly be a mother?’ I’m paraphrasing the Greek and putting it in contemporary terms. The angel responds, ‘You won’t have to break that vow. You won’t conceive by the seed of man, but the power of the Holy Spirit will be your spouse. Through this Word that you have just heard, through His seed, if you let it into your heart, it will bring about a harvest through your conception of the Christ. All you have to do is say Yes.’
And she says, ‘Behold, here I am, I am yours’ (to be continued)