And Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; Let it be done to me according to your word. – Luke 1:38
We fly to your patronage, O holy Mother of God; Despise not our prayers in our necessities, But ever deliver us from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin.
Scholars speculate that Mary was likely a teenager when Gabriel came from Heaven with God’s message of salvation. That day, God revealed to Mary her vocation, and her role in the salvation of the world. He revealed to her that he had a Son who would come into the world to save all people from sin, death, and the dominion of Satan. God asked Mary, the New Eve, to be the virgin mother of his eternal Son. His plan depended on her “Yes!” God willed to open the floodgates of mercy for the human race through Mary’s consent to be the virgin Mother of God-made-man. God, who needs no one to accomplish his purposes, willed to send his Son to us through Mary’s assent of faith. Mary stood before God as representative of the People of Israel and, indeed, of the entire human race. At that moment, everything depended upon her fiat; her Yes, let it be done unto to me according to your will. At the Second Vatican Council, the Church stressed Mary’s active participation in the redemption of the world. The Council Fathers recalled the words of St. Irenaeus of Lyon, a bishop of the 2nd century. Mary, a daughter of Adam, consenting to the divine Word, became the mother of Jesus, the one and only Mediator. Embracing God’s salvific will with a full heart and impeded by no sin, she devoted herself totally as a handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of her Son, under Him and with Him, by the grace of almighty God, serving the mystery of redemption. Rightly therefore the Holy Fathers see her as used by God not merely in a passive way, but as freely cooperating in the work of human salvation through faith and obedience. For, as St. Irenaeus says, she, “being obedient, became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.” Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert in their preaching, “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience; what the virgin Eve bound through her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith.” Comparing Mary with Eve, they call her “the Mother of the living,” and still more often they say: “death through Eve, life through Mary” (Lumen Gentium 56). Through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit Mary embraced Christ first in her mind through faith, then in her heart through hope and charity, and finally in her body by a miracle that only God could accomplish. She eagerly consented to her virginal motherhood with the full awareness that her child would be named Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). Through her fiat, Mary gave us Jesus and is, therefore, in God’s plan, the human cause of our salvation. We owe everything good in our lives to Mary, the Cause of our Joy.
God, Almighty Father, when Mary surrendered herself to your Word, she conceived Christ first in her mind through faith, in her heart through hope and love, and finally in her body through the marvelous operation of your Holy Spirit. By her eagerness to be the mother of your Son, she opened the floodgates of your merciful love for all men and women. May she help all people to live by faith, hope, love, and obedience to your will. May she remind us always that you want to bring salvation to our brothers and sisters through our faith and good works. Help us to accept fully our responsibility to combat the culture of death and foster the culture of life in our American society. We ask this through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.