From the moment that the angel proclaimed her ‘full of Grace’ from the moment Mary said ‘Yes’, the Church has grown in the understanding that from the very moment of her own conception Our Lady was preserved from the damaging effects of original sin...
Date: 26 Jan 2020
We look briefly today at Our Blessed Lady whose importance is precisely that she is the Mother of Jesus and therefore, because Jesus is God, the Mother of God.
Our Lady can be seen as the end of a long line of women beginning with Eve who, throughout the scriptures, the history of Israel, received promises and signs from God which prompt a response of faith.
We’re not talking about some frightened little girl who didn’t know what was going on. The whole movement of scripture and the Church’s tradition sees in Mary the culmination of God speaking to his people Israel. How often in pictures of the annunciation is Mary shown serene and calm reading the word of God. Indeed over the centuries many writers have observed that she who conceived the word of God in her womb received that word first in her heart and mind. Though Our Lady was disturbed by the angel’s greeting there is no suggestion she lost that utter trust in God. With the Annunciation comes the time of fulfilment. God is now going to save his people. By the will of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Son of the Father, the Second person of the Blessed Trinity, takes a human nature to himself in Mary’s womb. Enabled to do so by Mary’s faith filled response to the Angel. ‘Let it be done to me according to thy word’.
From the moment that the angel proclaimed her ‘full of Grace’ from the moment Mary said ‘Yes’. The Church has grown in the understanding that from the very moment of her own conception Our Lady was preserved from the damaging effects of original sin. The Church calls this the Immaculate Conception. Mary’s human nature was undamaged. Because she was to be God’s mother, God anticipates in Mary’s case the salvation which in history will be won on the Cross and offered to us in Baptism. This unique way of sharing in the salvation won by Christ was by God’s grace deepened into a life free from sin. Mary was thus not only holy and blameless, a suitable Mother for God, but full of grace, unrestrained by any sin, she was able to give wholehearted consent to God’s plan of salvation by placing herself entirely at the service of her son, the son of God and his mission. This is the heart of Our Lady’s special place amongst the faithful. In Mary every one of us can see the first disciple who wholeheartedly cooperates with God’s love revealed in Jesus.
It is common amongst some, even Catholics sometimes, to dismiss the idea of Mary’s virginity as a myth or a primitive idea but beware. Every thread of the Tapestry which is the Church’s teaching is important. The sign of Mary’s virginity is such that the Church has come to understand it as something not diminished but sanctified by Christ’s birth, something that indeed is perpetual. To the eyes of faith Mary’s virginity manifests God’s absolute initiative in the Incarnation, this birth can only be the act of God, it makes clear that the relationship between God the Father and God the Son is unique there is no human Father, it points out that the birth of Christ is the start of a new creation, it anticipates the new spiritual birth of those who through baptism will become children of God and it reveals the unwavering eternal faith of Mary in God’s word and the reality of the Church (of which our lady is the perfect symbol and realization) which brings forth life by embracing God’s word.
So much to say – so little time. Next week we look at Jesus’ life on earth.