Mary Was Ready

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By Chris Sparks

O Mother, Immaculate Virgin,
In You the divine ray is reflected,
Midst storms, 'tis You who teach me to love the Lord,
O my shield and defense from the foe. (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1232)

When the Archangel Gabriel visited Our Lady at the Annunciation, he didn't tell her to prepare herself for the coming of the Lord. He didn't say that she needed to consecrate herself, or purify herself, or somehow move from her present state of sinfulness to a properly clean, properly prepared state for the Incarnation of the Living God.

No — he called her "highly favored," "full of grace" (see Lk 1:28). He told her that God had chosen her, that she would conceive and bear a Son by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, in language reminiscent of the Scriptures describing the shekinah glory of the Lord descending on the Ark of the Covenant (see Lk 1:26-38; Ex 40:34-38), which had been crafted by the most skilled of artisans all according to God's exact specifications. Gabriel spoke the will of the Lord to Mary.┬áMary asked how this would be since she did not know man, and Gabriel answered.┬áThen, Mary consented and conceived, and the Son of God was incarnate.

Now that's amazing. Compare Gabriel's brief message to Mary ahead of her conceiving the Son of God with the instructions God gave the Israelites ahead of simply speaking with them on Mount Sinai:

The Lord said to Moses: Go to the people and have them sanctify themselves today and tomorrow. Have them wash their garments and be ready for the third day; for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Set limits for the people all around, saying: Take care not to go up the mountain, or even to touch its edge. All who touch the mountain must be put to death. No hand shall touch them, but they must be stoned to death or killed with arrows. Whether human being or beast, they must not be allowed to live. Only when the ram's horn sounds may they go up on the mountain. Then Moses came down from the mountain to the people and had them sanctify themselves, and they washed their garments. He said to the people, "Be ready for the third day. Do not approach a woman." (Ex 19:10-15)

That's a totally different message, the sort of message that you or I might expect to hear from God ahead of some special visitation from Heaven, like the Angel of Peace prepared the shepherd children at Fatima throughout 1916 ahead of the visits of Our Lady in 1917.

No: Mary was a wise virgin who was prepared for the arrival of the Messiah (see Mt 25:1-13). Her house, her soul, was in order, and had been in order from the first moment of her conception, by the grace of God. She didn't need to take three days, or 40 days, or any other time of preparation in order to be ready to welcome her Lord into the temple of her body. Mary was ready. Mary was holy, with an utterly unique holiness. She was the sole human person to be completely and totally pliant to the will of God, in all ways, at all times of her life, never at any point deviating from the divine will in any respect.

The Israelites had to be prepared to even approach the foot of the mountain on which God would descend, with threats of death for transgressing on holy ground. Mary was utterly ready to welcome God into her home, into her heart, and even into her womb. Our Lady was so utterly holy that God could at a moment's notice take on flesh of her flesh and bone of her bone, receive blood and heritage from her, receive humanity from her.

Mary was completely given over to God, and so God was completely given over to her. The Father entrusted the Son to her, and the Holy Spirit overshadowed her, espoused her. She was, is, and will eternally be united with God in a completely unique relationship.

Through her union with God, we have received Jesus Christ, and the salvation He brings. Saint Faustina describes that beautifully:

God, You did not destroy man after his fall, but in Your mercy You forgave him, You forgave in a divine way; that is, not only have You absolved him from guilt, but You have bestowed upon him every grace. Mercy has moved You to deign to descend among us and lift us up from our misery. God will descend to earth; the Immortal Lord of lords will abase Himself. But where will You descend, Lord; will it be to the temple of Solomon? Or will You have a new tabernacle built for Yourself? Where do You intend to come down? O Lord, what kind of tabernacle shall we prepare for You, since the whole earth is Your footstool?

You have indeed prepared a tabernacle for Yourself: the Blessed Virgin. Her Immaculate Womb is Your dwelling place, and the inconceivable miracle of Your mercy takes place, O Lord. The Word becomes flesh; God dwells among us, the Word of God, Mercy Incarnate. By Your descent, You have lifted us up to Your divinity. Such is the excess of Your love, the abyss of Your mercy. Heaven is amazed at the superabundance of Your love. No one fears to approach You now. You are the God of mercy. You have compassion on misery. You are our God, and we are Your people. You are our Father, and we are Your children by grace. Praise be to Your mercy, that You have deigned to descend among us. (Diary, 1745)

So on the Solemnity of the Annunciation this March 25, thank God, and thank Mary. Thank them for their love, for their mutual entrustment, each to each, and for the tremendous gifts of salvation, grace, and adoption we receive from their union. Thank Heaven and the Queen of Heaven for the gift of Jesus Christ, for the gift of the Mystical Body of Christ, for the gift of the Church, the family and household of God (see 1 Tim 3:15). And celebrate! At the Annunciation, God became man and dwelt among us, even before the Nativity, even before the ministry of Jesus (see Jn 1:14). So make a special meal, gather the family, pray the Rosary, and honor Our Lady.

She was ready for the coming of the Lord. Let us seek to do the same through lives of Sacraments, prayer, studying Scripture and Church teaching, and the works of mercy.

Pray for me that I may practice what I preach. I'll pray for you.

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Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

Linda - Apr 10, 2021

I am so thankful to God and Mary and learning so much about my Catholic teaching.

Mr. Eugene - Mar 25, 2021

I am glad to be part of this year's solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that the good Lord will strengthen us, uphold & bless us in His divine love & mercy and help us to always seek to learn, embrace & follow the will of God in our lives.