Today’s Gospel: Luke 1: 26-38
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Today’s Gospel reading from Mass is the same as the Gospel reading from the 6th day of Advent. I do not think this is because the Church was running out of passages to use, but rather because there is so much we can gain from this passage.
The angel Gabriel approached Mary and addressed her, “Hail, full of grace.” In this greeting, he revealed her role in Salvation History to her and to all of us. God chose to bless Mary with so much grace that her title became “full of grace.” Take a step back from the passage now and ask yourself, what is grace? Why do we need grace? Why was Mary given so much of it?
Looking to the Catechism of the Catholic Church we can find an answer to the first two questions: “Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.” (1996). With this definition in mind, if Mary is full of this “favor” and “help” which is necessary to respond and become children of God, it makes sense that people have called on her for help throughout the history of Christianity. If we need help to respond to the call to become children of God, and Mary is “full” of help, then we can by God’s will go to Mary and ask for her help. She is the Mother of the Redeemer and the Mother of the Redeemed as well!
Mary’s role is to help make way for Jesus in the hearts of people, which is why she is central to so many of our readings during Advent – the time focused on preparing the way for Christ’s birth and Second Coming. We should follow the example of of the saints by turning to Mary to help use accomplish the goal of life: union with God.
“Jesus is the mediator of justice; Mary obtains for us grace; for, as St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, St. Bernardine of Siena, St. Germanus, St. Antoninus, and others say, it is the will of God to dispense through the hands of Mary whatever graces he is pleased to bestow upon us. With God, the prayers of the saints are the prayers of His friends, but the prayers of Mary are the prayers of His mother.” – Saint Alphonsus Liguori
Mary, help of Christians, Pray for us!
In view of her role as Mother of us all, it’s appropriate that Mary was given all this grace so that she could bless others. The Church has turned to her for help, protection, and aid for over 2000 years. Even the fathers of the reformation upheld her role and importance for all Christians.
Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all of us even though it was Christ alone who reposed on her knees…If he is ours, we ought to be in his situation; there where he is, we ought also to be and all that he has ought to be ours, and his mother is also our mother. (Martin Luther – Sermon, Christmas, 1529).
“To this day we cannot enjoy the blessing brought to us in Christ without thinking at the same time of that which God gave as adornment and honor to Mary, in willing her to be the mother of his only-begotten Son.” – John Calvin
“The more the honor and love of Christ increases among men, so much the esteem and honor given to Mary should grow.” – Ulrich Zwingli
As we come close to the end of Advent, let us continue our preparation with a closer walk with our Lady so that we can draw closer to our Lord and Savior.
“Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.” – St. Bernard of Clairvaux
There are many different ways we can turn to Mary for help. It can be as simple as praying a “Hail Mary” or the “Memorare,” but there are also many beautiful and powerful devotions you can do to help you and your family welcome Mary more intimately into your hearts and into your homes.
- Ask a priest to come to your house and do an Enthronement of and Consecration to The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Pure Immaculate Heart of Mary (click here).
- Choose one of the popular Marian Novenas and pray it together as a couple and as a family (click here).
- Do the 33 Day St. Luis-Marie de Montfort’s Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary (click here).
- Do the 33 days to Morning Glory, A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in preparation for Marian Consecration by Fr. Michael Gaitley. Click here for the website and here for the book.