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Christ, God's Gift Through Mary

Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

The greatest gift God has given us is the gift of Himself in the Incarnation. The narrative which describes this gift in detail is the account of the Annunciation in St. Luke’s Gospel.

“Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town in 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 when the angel had come to her he said, “Hail full of grace the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.” When she had heard him, she was troubled at his word. And the angel said to her, "Be not afraid Mary, for thou have found grace with God. Behold thou shall bring forth a Son, and thou shall call His name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of David His father, and He shall be king over the House of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be,since I know not man?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee; and the Holy One born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”…Mary said,“BEHOLD THE HANDMAID OF THE LORD BE IT DONE TO ME ACCORDING TO THY WORD.”

This mystery is a description of the Incarnation, and from another viewpoint the Annunciation, which was the origin of the Church founded by Christ. God chose Mary because of her humility. Everything about the Annunciation depicts Mary as a humble person who is troubled by the Angel’s extraordinary praise. Proud persons like to be praised, but they never get enough. Mary was far from being proud. She had vowed herself to virginity and she inquired, “How can this be so?” when told she was to be the Mother of the one Who is to come, even though she was vowed to virginity. Though she did not understand, she accepted because she believed in God’s omnipotence. “Be it done unto me.”

The essence of humility is allowing God to do to us what He wants to do, offering no resistance. What are we to make of this? God consistently favors humble people for His greatest tasks. So if you want to do great things - be humble. A humble person is one who is little in his own eyes. Greatness and humility are never incompatible. The genius of humility is to give God all the credit for whatever virtue, intelligence or ability a person may have. Humility is the only lesson we all need to learn.

The essence of pride is not in possessing much, because little people can often be proud. Little people with much power are near the heart of the crisis in the modern world. Pride is giving credit to oneself for what is a gift of God. God’s grace goes to the humble and is withdrawn from the proud; Scripture tells us so. This is awe-fully true! Think of standing before God in judgment; unless we are humble, we will not be saved. True greatness never makes the mistake of thinking that “what I have is mine.”

God seems ruthless when He deals with pride, because He wants us to live the truth. God is indeed lavish with his blessings and prodigal with His gifts. Just watch the millions upon millions of leaves falling from the trees in autumn - a symbol of divine prodigality; but this same God insists that no one foolishly, which means dishonestly, talk or act as though what they possessed was really their own. Most of us are sober enough not to verbally say “all I have is my own.” It is our behavior. Acting as though it is our own, because truth is mainly expressed not in words, but in deeds, just as the worst lies are not told in sentences but in the way we act.

Mary was the most gifted person God ever made. She had the fullness of grace, and with this plenitude, she had everything else that God could give her. Yet she never for a moment doubted that what she had was not hers by right, but given her as a gift from God. The more we have been blessed by Him, the humbler we should be. God wants us aware that He is the owner of the graces and gifts that He gives us and He wishes them used according to His will, including our wills which too are His.

If we reflect on Mary’s privileges especially on the Annunciation, we are struck by a very wonderful thing. In becoming Man, where did God start? Let us understand the divine logic there; it can change our lives. God started with one single person, a sinless virgin, a young girl in her middle teens when most Oriental girls marry. When about to redeem the human race He started with a simple, humble, sinless child.

Why should we strive to overcome our faults, our sinful tendencies, our pride, our impatience, and our passions? There is one very important reason. We are to become more sinless so that God may use us more effectively as channels of His grace.

Mary’s sinlessness was in God’s redemptive Providence. He uses innocent people to be instruments of His grace. The more sinless we are, the more God will miraculously use our innocence to carry His merciful love. There are no tricks here and no one can cheat God. All the paraphernalia of the apostolate notwithstanding, we shall be precisely as effective in the supernatural order as we are holy.

Holy Mary, help us to see the Wisdom in your Son’s choosing the humble to be bearers of His Love to sinful mankind. May we be more obedient and simple in our responses to God's Will, so that like you, we too may bring Jesus to a world that so badly needs a Savior.

Paraphrased from a conference by John Hardon, S.J.

Vol. 30 - #4, December 1984, pp. 24-26

Copyright © 1998 Inter Mirifica

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