The beginning of our salvation starts with these words. “Hail Mary, full of grace.” Consider that Mary was a young woman at this point, a woman of her time and her people. Her words in response to the messenger Gabriel indicate natural intelligence, obedience and courage. She does not respond to the angel at first. She hears the angel’s message directly. "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end." Having lived a life of grace, Mary is more open to understanding God’s plan and to hearing it directly than the rest of us, who labor and hear and see through the veil of our fallen nature. This is extraordinary. Mary considers these words and their implication and asks the obvious question that reveals she is not an archetypical construct, but a person of flesh and blood. “How can this be since I do not know man?” It is a respectful and reasonable query.
The angel responds, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." She takes the angel’s words into her heart. She then makes a choice to trust God’s plan, to obey willingly. Think about knowing what you know now ten years ago. Would you have had the courage ten years ago to undergo whatever has passed since if you knew ahead of time what it would require? Gods plans for us are always bigger than our own for ourselves. Think about being willing then to walk forward on that path. It would take tremendous strength to consent to all that the angel presents in that simple scene. It would also require absolute trust.
Only obedience steeped in love could allow one to act so courageously, to allow one’s self to be so intimately used for our salvation. “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to thy word.” This is how she becomes the new Eve. She chooses to follow God’s plan where it takes her. She is not compelled to follow God’s plan, she chooses to embrace God’s plan in all of its intimate detail. Eve chose not to trust God’s love for her as a sufficient reason to submit to His words. Eve said “No.” Mary said, “Yes.”
The first joyful mystery is a blue print for how we are to try to live our lives; to be in as much as possible a state of grace while carrying out those tasks and jobs our daily life requires; to be open to hearing the whispers and messages of God; to take these whispers into our hearts, and to then joyfully, willingly follow God’s plan wherever it leads. We are called to develop a trust in God that mirrors Mary’s in its full obedience, love and courage. For each of us, God’s plan is different, but the end objective is the same, to bring us to know Him better, to call us to a more love filled sin free life, and help still more to find their way to salvation.
Next week: The Visitation
Copyright 2011 Sherry Antonetti
About the Author
Sherry Antonetti is a Catholic published author, freelance writer and part-time teacher. She lives with her husband and 10 children just outside of Washington, DC, where she's busy editing her upcoming book, A Doctor a Day, to be published by Sophia Institute Press. You can find her other writings linked up at her blog, Chocolate For Your Brain! or on Amazon.