When the angel Gabriel came I thought I was settled into my way of life. God had provided everything. I had my inner call which was so unique and I also had Joseph, who would allow me to live this call, hidden from the eyes of others. Our hearts were truly one. His heart was given to God just as mine was. We were totally united, called together into this mystery that flowed from my heart but which his heart welcomed, also.
Frightened By God’s Light
This was the situation when Gabriel said these words, “Hail, full of grace. The Lord is with you”. I had always enjoyed the intimacy of God. So many times, he had spoken in my heart calling me to himself. Now, God spoke through an angel. This went beyond any experience I had ever had. Through this visit, I was plunged into the greatest divine light. It is frightening to be lost in darkness but it is even more frightening to be overwhelmed with God’s light. Gabriel did not need to hear my words. He saw my fear, and said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, because you have found favor with God”. I saw and I understood better than any scholar what this meant.
The Regained Favor
Adam and Eve had lost this favor. Now, I began to understand that all the divine favors that I had experienced were a sign. Gabriel was revealing that all these favors because I was perfectly joined to God. What was at the beginning, existed again. What had been lost was regained. I was perfectly united with God just as our first parents had been. Everything came together. Through these words, “You have found favor with God”, I saw the mystery. I understood what God had done.
A Greater Mystery
I asked myself a question, “Why has God done this to me?” Gabriel went on, “You shall conceive and bear a son”. Once more, I was enveloped by a mystery that I did not understand. I had faithfully followed God’s inner call. I had consecrated myself as a virgin. God had confirmed that call by giving me Joseph. We had agreed to a life of virginity. Now, I was told by an angel of God that I would conceive.
All I could say was, “How can this be, since I do not know man?” Gabriel quickly explained the divine plan, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you”. I understood his words, “the Holy Spirit”. He was the third eternal Person whom I had experienced coming from the Father and the Son. I thought to myself, “Will I be absorbed into God? Will I be made fruitful by a Divine Person?”
The Son Coming From the Father
Yet, that is what Gabriel was telling me, “The child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God”. The words rang in my head and flooded my heart. Through the divine favors, I had seen and experienced the Father and the Son in the eternal processions of the three Divine Persons. With his Father, he was truly an eternal Son. Now, Gabriel used the words “A child to be born”. I would be a mother. A child would come forth from my womb. That child would be the Son whom I saw come forth from the Father’s side. God’s plan was so clear to me. I understood it. The Father was knocking at my door, inviting me to open myself to the power of his Spirit so that his Son could take flesh and blood within my womb.
All Is Possible With God
Even Gabriel stood outside the mystery. He was just the messenger. Seeing me try to respond to the invitation, he told me of what God had already done. My kinswoman Elizabeth, who was beyond the years of childbearing, had conceived a son and was in her sixth month. This was a marvel of God. Gabriel was using the burning and shining lamp of John to guide me. Then, with the greatest of simplicity, he said, “Mary, nothing is impossible to God!” How those words supported me. Yes, for God, nothing is impossible. All that I heard, all that I was told was possible. It could take place.
Mary’s Free Will
At that moment I experienced the freedom of my will. I experienced God as the great respecter of the human persons whom he creates. I realized that God waited upon me. He knocked but he did not open. He invited but he did not compel. He who is almighty would not act. He would wait. It was as if all the centuries were contained in that single moment, as if all of history, from Adam and Eve to Jesus’ Final Coming, was suspended, held in midair. In my own heart, it was like years, all the years and all the moments that I had experienced God’s delights. Now, I realized God was my suitor. He wanted my hand in marriage and my womb to bring forth his Son.
And the Word Became Flesh
How could I refuse him? How could any creature say “No”? My whole being poured forth into God. I was united to God as I had never been before. The divine fire overshadowed me. “Let it be done” I said. I repeated this over and again, as if once was not worthy enough of his Being.
Then, silence overwhelmed by soul, the deepest of all silences. I was still, and totally attentive. How else could I be? The Word was becoming flesh. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the overshadowing took place. With that, Gabriel departed and I was left with my thoughts and with the eternal, living Word in my womb.
Comment: In a long, beautiful and penetrating narrative, Mary shares her inner feelings at her Annunciation.