When the Son of God became man, He could have taken upon Him our nature without the co-operation of any creature; but He was pleased to be born of a woman. In the choice of her whom He raised to this most sublime of all dignities, He pitched upon the one who, by the riches of His grace and virtues, was of all others the most holy and the most perfect.
When the angel appeared to Mary and addressed her, the Blessed Virgin was troubled; not at the angel’s appearance, says St. Ambrose, for heavenly visions and a commerce with the blessed spirits had been familiar to her. But what alarmed her, he says, was the angel’s appearing in human form, in the shape of a young man. What might add to her fright on the occasion, was his addressing her in words of praise.
The angel, to calm her, says: “Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor before God.” He then informs her that she is to conceive and bring forth a son whose name shall be Jesus, who shall be great, and the Son of the Most High, and possessed of the throne of David, her illustrious ancestor. Mary, out of a just concern to know how she may comply with the will of God without prejudice to her vow of virginity, inquires, “How shall this be?” Nor does she give her consent till the heavenly messenger acquaints her that it is to be a work of the Holy Ghost, who in making her fruitful, will not intrench in the least upon her virginal purity.
In submission, therefore, to God’s will, without any further inquiries, she expresses her assent in these humble but powerful words: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to Thy word.” What faith and confidence does her answer express! What profound humility and perfect obedience!
Illustration and text from Pictorial Lives of the Saints With Reflections for Every Day in the Year (New York: Benziger Bros., 1922).