Friends, in today’s Gospel, the angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she has been chosen to be the mother of God.

In the face of this overwhelming word, Mary is confused: “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And she cannot begin to imagine the full consequences of accepting this invitation: shame, exile, violent pursuit, the final agony on Calvary. 

And yet, despite her fear and despite the darkness, she says, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” At the crucial moment, Mary of Nazareth allows herself to fall in love with God, and in that moment of ecstasy, the Son of God enters the world for its salvation. 

The human tragedy began with Adam and Eve’s grasp; the divine comedy commences with Mary’s letting-go. This is why the medieval commentators, with their delicious sense of the co-penetration of all parts of the Bible, observed that the “Ave” of the angel of the Annunciation reverses “Eva,” the mother of all the living.

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