Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14, 8:10; Hebrews 10:4-10; Luke 1:26-38
Mary’s alarm and fear at the appearance of the Angel Gabriel suggests, perhaps, that there were no earlier visits from heavenly messengers or any other form of divine epiphany preceding this momentous occasion in her young life. And all this despite the fact that she was sinless from the first moment of her conception. I mention this because, from time to time, we may find ourselves envying the saints who were blessed with visions and revelations that confirmed them in their faith and God-given missions for the Church, and suspect that it is simply because our sinfulness that such seemingly desirable graces are withheld from us.
And while for us–unlike Mary–sin is always a factor to be taken into account, it is not the only one. Our very humanity, even in its pre-fallen sate, was still incapable of fully encountering and beholding the true face of God and needed to undergo that mysterious process of divinization whereby it is finally empowered to look on the face of God because it now–through Christ–shares in that divinity on which it is privileged to gaze. With Mary’s sinless state this process of divinization was simply an incremental transformation in joyous love that culminated in her glorious assumption. However, with us this transformation includes the forgiving and purging of our sins accompanied by the long and painful process of healing the wounds that sin has inflicted upon us. Nevertheless, even though Mary’s journey towards divinization was unimpeded by any sinfulness, hers was still a walk in faith that, at times, was very dark.
Accordingly, in the midst of darkness and confusion we can confidently call upon Mary as upon one who understands that darkness and confusion despite not sharing our sinfulness. And her quiet and trusting walk of faith is one that we need to keep before us in those moments when we feel that our heartfelt efforts at conversion are not being acknowledged and appropriately rewarded; for, aside from this fleeting–albeit momentous–heavenly visitation there is little to suggest that the rest of Mary’s amazing life was graced with similar experiences until that day when she was finally taken up in glory. And so, rather than bemoan the absence of graces and favors that we think we should obtain, let us embrace the great grace of being allowed to walk a similar path of faith and love to the one who was declared to be full of grace.