THEME: MARY, GOD’S CHOSEN VESSEL OF SALVATION
READINGS: Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10/ Hebrews 10:4-10/ Luke 1:26-38
Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
The Good News of salvation was announced to the Blessed Virgin Mary by the angel Gabriel (cf. Luke 1:26-38). It is clear from the message of God which the angel delivered that Mary was the unique vessel of honour chosen by God to bear the only Begotten Son of God. She was to become the only woman in history in whose womb the Son of God would be conceived and the only mother in history to give birth to the Saviour of the world (cf. Gal. 4:4-5).
On her part, the Blessed Virgin Mary wholeheartedly accepted to become God’s chosen vessel of our salvation. Hence, she said, in response to the angel: “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). For unreservedly accepting to become the chosen vessel of our salvation and perfectly executing this role, Mother Mary deserves our honour.
A second reason why we honour the Blessed Virgin Mary is that God Himself honoured her by the choice He made. If the honour of being chosen for a task is greater the higher the status of the person who makes the choice, then Mary is certainly highly honoured, because it was God Himself who chose her. Furthermore, the value of a choice is greater, the larger the number from whom one is chosen. And in the case of Mary, she was chosen from among the billions of women ranging from Eve till Christ will come again. Mary is, thus, highly honoured by God Himself and this is confirmed by the greeting of the angel Gabriel: “Hail, favoured one! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). Also, Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, affirmed: “You are the most blessed among women” (Luke 1:42). If, therefore, God Himself has honoured Mary, we have no option but to honour her.
Thirdly, it is natural to honour the mother of anyone who is dear to us or anyone whom we hold in high esteem. We may, for instance, honour the mother of our queen, king or president. More so, Mother Mary is the mother of not just an earthly king or president; rather, she is the mother of the King of kings, the Lord of lords and the President of presidents. Hence, inspired by the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth felt humbled and highly honoured by the visit of Mother Mary, and so she exclaimed: “why is that the mother of my Lord should come to me” (Luke 1:43). Like Elizabeth, those inspired by the Holy Spirit have a good appreciation of the exceedingly high favour God has granted Mother Mary and so honour her.
Fourthly, in her encounter with Elizabeth, Mother Mary said with humility: “henceforth, all generations shall call me blessed” (Luke 1:48). We should, therefore, honour her by acknowledging the great things which God has done in and through Mother Mary.
Fifthly, we honour Mother Mary because of her great humility. Her humility is obvious in her immediate attribution to God of the great things in her life: “The Almighty has done great things for me and holy is His name” (Luke 1:49). In other words, Mother Mary made it clear that greatness and holiness originate from God and not from her. Such a spirit of humility and dependence on God is worthy of emulation.
Sixthly, we honour Mother Mary because she is the model believer par excellence. Elizabeth appreciated the depth of Mother Mary’s faith in God. She said to Mother Mary: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Luke 1:45). Indeed, great was the faith of Mother Mary who, without any precedence of a virgin conceiving without sleeping with a man, believed the message of the angel. What is more! Great was the faith she displayed in believing that she would give birth to the very Son of God. And what an amazing faith in God she displayed as she stood by the cross witnessing the terrible and terrifying crucifixion of the innocent Son of God and her only Son. In this last instance, her silent contemplation (devoid of any shadow of doubt) of the ways of God is simply edifying! Mother Mary is indeed the model believer for us all.
Seventhly, we honour Mother Mary because she intercedes for us. Her intervention at the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11) shows how powerful her intercession is. At the wedding, her intercession elicited the intervention of Christ even when His hour had not yet come. Notwithstanding the Lord’s initial unfavourable response, Mother Mary was very confident that her Son would honour her and so she went ahead to tell the waiters to obey the instructions of Christ (cf. John 2:5). And then Christ changed water into wine. Another lesson from the miracle at Cana is that Mother Mary, being the most compassionate Mother, intercedes for us even when we have not requested for it, for there is no indication that the couple sought her intercession.
Finally, as we honour Mother Mary, the singular vessel of salvation, and emulate her virtues of humility and faith (among others), may her intercessions (solicited and unsolicited) bring us God’s grace and blessings now and at the hour of our death. Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis