Faithful Mary

In the beloved account of the Annunciation handed down to us in the Gospel of St. Luke, the evangelist recounts the response of Mary who having been informed by the angel of the Lord’s conception finds herself capable of saying “fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum” (“let it be done to me according to thy word”).    Lk. 1:38.   Consider the remarkable courage it took for this young teenaged girl from Nazareth to respond to God in this way.   Her “fiat” is indicative of her lifelong fidelity to God.   It characterizes the attitude of total faithfulness of the Blessed Mother to God’s will, for she submits herself, “let it be done to me”, to the command of God.   This is the first instance of her important witness and example; fidelity.   Fidelity is taken from the Latin root “fides” which means faith, and faith according to St. Thomas Aquinas, is an “act of the intellect assenting to [the Divine]”.  (Summa Theologica).  Therefore in order to be faithful to God, one must assent or “submit” as did Mary to God’s plan.     Complete submission to God’s will necessarily demands complete humility, which means an absence of pride and therefore one must conclude that in order to truly be faithful one must be freed from the devastating effects of sin.   

This begs the question, how then is it that Mary was capable of responding to God with such an act of her will and intellect?    St. Thomas Aquinas provides us a clue into understanding the nature of this young woman.   For in his definition of faith, he states that the movement of assenting to God’s will is brought about only through grace.   Grace is the key to understanding just how Mary could say yes.   Recalling the words of the angel to her, he greets her as “Hail Mary, full of grace” (Lk.  1:28).   This is not an empty or passed over statement.    It is significant, because the angel recognizes the unique privilege of Mary.    For he calls her “full of grace”, she is the one whom grace is operating in such a way that she is immersed completely in grace.    While sin has devastating effects on the human person, so grace has an amazing resplendent effect on us as well.    In Mary’s case this grace which we partake of in the sacraments, has encompassed her being and she has not allowed herself to depart from the state of grace that God has bestowed upon her.  

Unlike the rest of us which by our weakness move in and out of the state of grace, Mary remained in that state perpetually, therefore the angel can say that she is “full of grace”.     Grace, which is the Divine life in us, has perfected her nature, as it does in us.   For Mary, grace has so perfected her nature that by the time the angel announces God’s plan to her, she with integrity and sincerity and with the full submission of her will and her intellect can say “let it be done unto me according to thy word”.    Her example to us is now on full display, to be a follower of Jesus Christ, to be a true believer and one who is capable of answering to God’s plan for us, to be faithful, one must remain in the state of grace, one must remain free from sin and therefore conquer our sinful inclinations. 

In the Blessed Mother we see the work of grace that makes her the True Woman of Faith, a faith that allowed God’s life to dwell in her so fully that it became the Incarnate Word Himself.    As we celebrate May, the month of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we must learn from her how to find the courage to say to God with all being, in sincerity and completely, “Fiat!”   “Yes Lord, I am your servant!”  


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