Mary first conceived Jesus in faith and then in the flesh, when she said “yes” to the message God gave her through the angel. What does this mean? It means that God did not want to become man by bypassing our freedom; he wanted to pass through Mary’s free assent, through her “yes.” He asked her: “Are you prepared to do this?” And she replied: “Yes.”
But what took place most singularly in the Virgin Mary also takes place within us, spiritually, when we receive the word of God with a good and sincere heart and put it into practice. It is as if God takes flesh within us; he comes to dwell in us, for he dwells in all who love him and keep his word. It is not easy to understand this, but really, it is easy to feel it in our heart.
—Pope Francis, October 12, 2013
Handmaid of the Lord
The Gospel of Saint Luke presents us with Mary, a girl from Nazareth, a small town in Galilee, in the outskirts of the Roman Empire and on the outskirts of Israel as well. A village. Yet the Lord’s gaze rested on her, on this little girl from that distant village, on the one he had chosen to be the Mother of his Son.
In view of this motherhood, Mary was preserved from original sin, from that fracture in communion with God, with others and with creation, which deeply wounds every human being. But this fracture was healed in advance in the Mother of the One who came to free us from the slavery of sin. The Immaculata was written in God’s design; she is the fruit of God’s love that saves the world.
And Our Lady never distanced herself from that love: throughout her life her whole being is a “yes” to that love, it is the “yes” to God. But that didn’t make life easy for her! When the angel calls her “full of grace” (Lk 1:28), she is “greatly troubled” for in her humility she feels she is nothing before God.
The angel consoles her: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (v. 30,31). This announcement troubles her even more because she was not yet married to Joseph; but the angel adds: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you…therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (v. 35). Mary listens, interiorly obeys, and responds: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word” (v.38).
—Pope Francis, December 8, 2013
We Pray with Pope Francis
Mary, Mother of Jesus,
you who accepted, teach us how to accept;
you who adored, teach us how to adore;
you who followed, teach us how to follow. Amen.
This lovely post of Reflections by Pope Francis on the place of the Blessed Virgin Mary in God’s plan of redemption reminds us of the fact that Mary, by accepting God’s challenge to become the earthly mother of God’s divine Son – through the intervention of the Holy Spirit – was pivotal to the process of the Incarnation of Jesus.
This is a very Franciscan understanding of the role of Mary in the Church, which has helped me, personally, to come to terms with her relevance to the relationship between God and all humanity.
At this time, when the Church celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, we are opened up to what it might mean for our own Resurrection, when Christ comes again at the end of time as we know it, to take ALL who belong to him into the courts of heaven, where Mary and all the Saints will be there to welcome us at our homecoming.
Hail to you O Queen of Heaven Alleluia!
He whom you were meet to bear, Alleluia!
As He promised has arisen, Alleluia!
Pour for us to Him you prayer, Alleluia!
Rejoice and be glad O Virgin Mary, alleluia!
For the Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch