Monday, March 25, 2024

Hail, Full of Grace. . .

On this day, the first day of Holy Week to follow our Lord's Palm Sunday entrance, the Church Calendar recalls how the angel came to Mary.  “Hail, full of grace!  The Lord is with you.”  Behind that greeting was the Word of the Lord.  As that Word spoke to the shocked Mary, her womb became home to the Son of God in human flesh and blood.  Quite a lot for a young virgin to take in...  Quite a lot for us, as well!

The Church has called the Blessed Virgin “Theotokos.”  It means birth giver of God or Mother of God.  While we might be tempted to wait until Christmas to think of Mary in this way, that title is true of this day, nine months before she delivered her first born Son and laid Him in swaddling cloths in a manger.

Later, visiting Elizabeth, this was further testified by the baby John in Elizabeth’s womb.  In Greek he “eskiptasin” – yeah, you got it.  He skipped in his mother’s womb, recognizing Jesus in Mary’s own womb.

The Blessed Virgin consented to the Lord's Word.  "Let it be to me as you have said."  The gift was given to be received.  On this day we rejoice in the God who became incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, who was made man, in the womb of the Virgin.  On this day we rejoice in the Virgin who saw this gift and consented to the Lord as an act of faith and trust.  On this day our attention draws nine months forward to Christmas and to the birth forever blessed, when the Virgin full of grace, delivered up the Savior of all mankind.  In Lent.  In Holy Week.  A hint of Christmas.  As it should be. . .  For the child conceived in Mary's womb was not meant for the hopes and dreams of parents for a son but of a world for a Savior and of a Heavenly Father who was not content to lose His creation to sin and its death.  Curiously, the artist has captured this future in the Easter Lily the angel has in his hand.  There is a future for this Son of God enfleshed in Mary's womb. 

As we take a moment to offer to God thanks and praise for Him who did not disdain the Virgin's womb, but, for us and for our salvation, took flesh from her, can we do anything less than commit ourselves to the cause of those whom the Lord gives flesh and blood in wombs still and guard the treasure of this gift for the Lord, as a trust from Him?  I hope not. . .   

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