The Somerset Guardian, 22nd December 2021
As Christmas approaches it is worth dwelling on the role of Mary, the Mother of God and her role in salvation. It is a subject that has been considered by the doctors of the Church because it is fundamental to the coming of Christ, our saviour.
Mary had free will, as do we all, so she could have said “no”. When the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her she was not compelled by God to bear His son. Mary may have been prepared for her role before her birth by her Immaculate Conception but this did not lessen her humanity nor abrogate her free will.
That Mary said “yes” is the most amazing testament of faith. The Archangel recognised her fear, saying “Fear not, Mary: for though hast found favour with God”, yet she must have been terrified. This would not only have been because of the appearance of an angel but also from what was expected of her. Mary was to have a child out of wedlock in a highly traditional society. Nonetheless, Mary consented with humility and faith, saying “Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it unto me according to thy word”.
Without this act of faith and courage salvation, redemption and freedom from death would not have come. No wonder St. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote that “By your short answer shall we be recalled to life. Adam…implores it of you, Abraham entreats you, David beseeches you. This is the object of the burning desires of the holy fathers, of your father, who are still dwelling in the region of the shades of death. Behold the entire human race prostrate at your feet in expectation”. As Mary’s answer was awaited there was a cosmic holding of breath. If Our Lady had said “no” all of history would have been changed fundamentally and for evil.
Mary said “yes” and opened the door to salvation for us all. Christmas is the triumphant arrival of her son, the son of God and was dependent on her free choice. No wonder she is venerated and her intercessions sought, for the divine will could only operate with and through the human will, that of a fearful young girl in a city of Galilee named Nazareth.
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