Had the world known of the celestial messenger’s coming to earth, it would have sought among the rich and the powerful for the happy mortal to whom he bore the grand message, because the world willingly believes that perfection is found in greatness. But the angel goes to a virgin of fifteen, humble and unknown, legally espoused to a poor artisan, dwelling in a poor home, in a town despised and ignored. He goes to Mary! What! so much preparation for this unknown maiden! Yes. Worldly prestige soon comes to naught and human pride is confounded.
The angel goes to a virgin. God admits only pure souls to intimacy. He pardons the sinner, but He unites Himself only to purity.
The angel is the first to salute. He is, indeed, the less worthy of the two.
Hail, full of grace! Among all the daughters of Eve, Mary alone is full of grace. We are full of the miseries of original sin. Mary is pure as the sun. God formed her of special earth, and fashioned her with singular care.
The Lord is with thee. Yes, for He dwells in the purity of thy heart, Mary, as in a paradise of delights, and thy virtues are so many flowers that send up to Him the sweetest perfume. At what hour did the angel appear? The Gospel does not say. Commentators think that it was about midnight, at the moment that one day ends and another begins, for Mary is the aurora which separates darkness from light.
“Thou shalt conceive a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus.”
“How shall this be done?” she asked. “I am, and I wish to remain a virgin.” What a moment! Mary holds heaven and earth in suspense. God is waiting the consent of this lowly maiden!
Mary triumphs, and hears these words: “The power of the Most High shall overshadow thee; in becoming a mother, thou shalt remain a virgin.”
Mary replied: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord! Be it done unto me according to thy word!”
Mary did not say: Behold the Mother of the Lord! although she was actually His mother at that moment. The saints are so much the humbler as God has elevated them higher. With reason, St. Bernard could say of Mary: “She pleased the Lord by her virginity; she conceived Him by her humility.”
The consent of that lowly maiden changed the face of the earth. God entered again into His domain. He began again that converse with man much more perfect and much more lasting than in the earthly paradise.
This mystery of the Annunciation ennobles us. It brings God back to earth. It is at the same time a mystery entirely interior, a mystery of communion. In Communion, the Eucharistic Jesus becomes, in a manner, incarnate in us, and Communion is one of the ends of His Incarnation. By communicating worthily, we enter into the divine plan, we perfect it. . . . The Lord, in this mystery, has done great things in her; and by coming to us, He has again done great things. Let us try to imitate her virtues, in order that Jesus Christ may find in us, as in His holy Mother, a dwelling worthy of Him.
Text from Father Eymard’s Month of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament (New York: Sentinel Press, 1903).