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From: Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12

Hymn of Praise

[3] Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed
us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, [4] even as he
chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and
blameless before him. [5] He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus
Christ, according to the purpose of his will, [6] to the praise of his glorious grace
which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

[11] In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things accor-
ding to the counsel of his will, [12] we who first hoped in Christ have been des-
tined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory.


3-14. Verses 3-14 are a hymn of praise to God for the plan of salvation he has
devised and brought to fulfillment in benefit of men and all creation. It is written
in a liturgical style of rhythmic prose, similar to that in Colossians 1:15-20. In
the Greek it is one long complex sentence full of relative pronouns and clauses
which give it a designed unity; we can, however, distinguish two main sections.

The first (v. 3-10), divided into four stanzas, describes the blessings contained in
God’s salvific plan; St Paul terms this plan the “mystery” of God’s will. The sec-
tion begins by praising God for his eternal design, a plan, pre-dating creation, to
call us to the Church, to form a community of saints (first stanza: vv. 3f) and re-
ceive the grace of being children of God through Jesus Christ (second stanza: vv.
5f). It then reflects on Christ’s work of redemption which brings this eternal plan
of God to fulfillment (third stanza: vv. 7f). This section reaches its climax in the
fourth stanza (vv. 9f) which proclaims Christ as Lord of all creation, thereby re-
vealing the full development of God’s salvific plan.

The second section, which divides into two stanzas, deals with the application
of this plan — first to the Jews (fifth stanza: vv. 11f) and then to the Gentiles, who
are also called to share what God has promised: Jews and Gentiles join to form
a single people, the Church (sixth stanza: vv. 13f).

Hymns in praise of God, or “eulogies”, occur in many parts of Sacred Scripture
(cf. Ps 8; Ps 19; Dan 2:20-23; Lk 1:46-54, 68-78; etc.); they praise the Lord for
the wonders of creation or for spectacular interventions on behalf of his people.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, St Paul here praises God the Father for all Christ’s
saving work, which extends from God’s original plan which he made before he
created the world, right up to the very end of time and the recapitulation of all
things in Christ.

We too should always have this same attitude of praise of the Lord. “Our entire
life on earth should take the form of praise of God, for the never-ending joy of our
future life consists in praising God, and no one can become fit for that future life
unless he train himself to render that praise now” (St Augustine, “Enarrationes
in Psalmos”, 148).

Praise is in fact the most appropriate attitude for man to have towards God: “How
can you dare use that spark of divine intelligence — your mind — in anything but in
giving glory to your Lord?” (St. J. Escriva, “The Way”, 782).

3. St Paul blesses God as Father of our Lord Jesus Christ because it is through
Christ that all God’s blessings and gifts reach us. God’s actions in favor of man
are actions of all three divine Persons; the divine plan which the Apostle consi-
ders here has its origin in the Blessed Trinity; it is eternal. “These three Persons
are not to be considered separable,” the Eleventh Council of Toledo teaches,
“since we believe that not one of them existed or at any time effected anything
before the other, after the other, or without the other. For in existence and ope-
ration they are found to be inseparable” (”De Trinitate” Creed, “Dz-Sch”, 531).

In the implementation of this divine plan of salvation, the work of Redemption is
attributed to the Son and that of sanctification to the Holy Spirit. “To help us
grasp in some measure this unfathomable mystery, we might imagine the Bles-
sed Trinity taking counsel together in their uninterrupted intimate relationship of
infinite love. As a result of their eternal decision, the only-begotten Son of God
the Father takes on our human condition and bears the burden of our wretched-
ness and sorrows, to end up sewn with nails to a piece of wood” (St. J. Escriva,
“Christ Is Passing By”, 95).

St Paul describes as “spiritual blessings” all the gifts which the implementation
of God’s plan implies, gifts which are distributed by the Holy Spirit. When he
speaks of them as being “in the heavenly places” and “in Christ”, he is saying
that through Christ who has risen from the dead and ascended on high we too
have been inserted into the world of God (cf. 1:20; 2:6).

When man describes God as “blessed” it means he recognizes God’s greatness
and goodness, and rejoices over the divine gifts he has received (cf. Lk 1:46, 68).
Here is what St Thomas Aquinas has to say about the meaning of this passage:
“The Apostle says, ‘Benedictus’ [Blessed be the God ...], that is, may I, and you,
and everyone bless him, with our heart, our mouth, our actions — praising him as
God and as Father, for he is God because of his essence and Father because of
his power to generate” (”Commentary on Eph.”, 1, 6).

Sacred Scripture very often invites us to praise God our Lord (cf. Ps 8:19; 33; 46-
48; etc.); this is not a matter only of verbal praise: our actions should prove that
we mean what we say: “He who does good with his hands praises the Lord, and
he who confesses the Lord with his mouth praises the Lord. Praise him by your
actions” (St Augustine, “Enarrationes in Psalmos”, 91, 2).

4. As the hymn develops, the Apostle details each of the blessings contained in
God’s eternal plan. The first of these is his choice, before the foundation of the
world, of those who would become part of the Church. The word he uses, trans-
lated here as “chose”, is the same one as used in the Greek translation of the
Old Testament to refer to God’s election of Israel. The Church, the new people
of God, is constituted by assembling in and around Christ those who have been
chosen and called to holiness. This implies that although the Church was foun-
ded by Christ at a particular point in history, its origin goes right back to the eter-
nal divine plan. ‘The eternal Father, in accordance with the utterly gratuitous and
mysterious design of his wisdom and goodness,... ‘predestined (the elect) to be
conformed to the image of his Son in order that he might be the first-born among
many brethren’ (Rom 8:29). He determined to call together in a holy Church those
who believe in Christ. Already present in figure at the beginning of the world, this
Church was prepared in marvelous fashion in the history of the people of Israel
and in the Old Alliance. Established in this last age of the world, and made mani-
fest in the outpouring of the Spirit, it will be brought to glorious completion at the
end of time” (Vatican II, “Lumen Gentium”, 2).

God’s choice seeks to have us become “holy and blameless before him”. In the
same way as in the Old Testament a victim offered to God had to be unblemished,
blameless (cf. Gen 17:1), the blameless holiness to which God has destined us
admits of no imperfection. By the very fact of being baptized we are made holy (cf.
note on 1:1), and during our lifetime we try to grow holier with the help of God;
however, complete holiness is something we shall attain only in heaven.

The holiness with which we have been endowed is an undeserved gift from God:
it is not a reward for any merit on our part: even before we were created God
chose us to be his: “’He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that
we should be holy.’ I know that such thoughts don’t fill you with pride or lead you
to think yourself better than others. That choice, the root of your vocation, should
be the basis of your humility. Do we build monuments to an artist’s paintbrush?
Granted the brush had a part in creating masterpieces, but we give credit only to
the painter. We Christians are nothing more than instruments in the hands of the
Creator of the world, the Redeemer of all men” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing
By”, 1).

“He destined us in love”: the loving initiative is God’s. “If God has honored us with
countless gifts it is thanks to his love, not to our merits. Our fervor, our strength,
our faith and our unity are the fruit of God’s benevolence and our response to his
goodness” (St John Chrysostom, “Hom. on Eph, ad loc”.).

God’s election of Christians and their vocation to holiness, as also the gift of di-
vine filiation, reveals that God is Love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8); we have become partakers
of God’s very nature (cf. 2 Pet 1:4), sharers, that is, in the love of God.

“He destined us in love”, therefore, also includes the Christian’s love of God and
of others: charity is a sharing in God’s own love; it is the essence of holiness,
the Christian’s law; nothing has any value if it is not inspired by charity (cf. 1
Cor 13:1-3).

5. The Apostle goes on to explore the further implications of God’s eternal plan:
those chosen to form part of the Church have been given a second blessing, as
it were, by being predestined to be adoptive children of God. ‘The state of this
people is that of the dignity and freedom of the sons of God, in whose hearts the
Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple” (Vatican II, “Lumen Gentium, 9).

This predestination to which the Apostle refers means that God determined from
all eternity that the members of the new people of God should attain holiness
through his gift of adoptive sonship. It is God’s desire that all be saved (cf. 1 Tim
2:4) and he gives each person the means necessary for obtaining eternal life.
Therefore, no one is predestined to damnation (cf. Third Council of Valence, “De
Praedestinatione”, can. 3).

The source of the Christian’s divine sonship is Jesus Christ. God’s only Son, one
in substance with the Father, took on human nature in order to make us sons and
daughters of God by adoption (cf. Rom 8:15, 29; 9:4; Gal 4:5). This is why every
member of the Church can say: “See what love the Father has given us, that we
should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 Jn 3:1).

What is involved here is not simply formal adoption, which is something external
and does not affect the very person of the child. Divine adoption affects man’s en-
tire being, it inserts him into God’s own life; for Baptism makes us truly his chil-
dren, partakers of the divine nature (cf. 2 Pet 1:4). Divine sonship is therefore the
greatest of the gifts God bestows on man during his life on earth. It is indeed right
to exclaim “Blessed be God” (v. 3) when one reflects on this great gift: it is right
for children openly to acknowledge their father and show their love for him.

Divine filiation has many rich effects as far as the spiritual life is concerned. “A
child of God treats the Lord as his Father. He is not obsequious and servile; he
is not merely formal and well-mannered: he is completely sincere and trusting.
God is not shocked by what we do. Our infidelities do not wear him out. Our Fa-
ther in heaven pardons any offense when his child returns to him, when he repents
and asks for pardon. The Lord is such a good father that he anticipates our desire
to be pardoned and comes forward to us, opening his arms laden with grace” (St.
J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 64). See the notes on Jn 1:12.

6. The gift of divine filiation is the greatest expression of the glory of God (cf. note
on 1:17 below), because it reveals the full extent of God’s love for man. St Paul
stresses what the purpose of this eternal divine plan is — to promote “the praise
of his glorious grace”. God’s glory has been made manifest through his merciful
love, which has led him to make us his children in accordance with the eternal
purpose of his will. This eternal design “flows from ‘fountain-like love’, the love of
God the Father [...]. God in his great and merciful kindness freely creates us and,
moreover, graciously calls us to share in his life and glory. He generously pours
out, and never ceases to pour out, his divine goodness, so that he who is Creator
of all things might at last become ‘everything to everyone’ (1 Cor 15:28), thus si-
multaneously assuring his own glory and our happiness” (Vatican II, “Ad Gentes”,

The grace which St Paul speaks of here and which manifests the glory of God re-
fers first to the fact that God’s blessings are totally unmerited by us and include
the grace-conferring gifts of holiness and divine filiation.

“In the Beloved”: the Old Testament stresses again and again that God loves his
people and that Israel is that cherished people (cf. Deut 33:12; is 5:1, 7; 1 Mac
6:11; etc.). In the New Testament Christians are called “beloved by God” (1 Thess
1:4; cf. Col 3:12). However, there is only one “Beloved”, strictly speaking, Jesus
Christ our Lord — as God revealed from the bright cloud at the Transfiguration:
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt 17:5). The Son of his
love has obtained man’s redemption and brought forgiveness of sins (cf. Col 1:
13ff), and it is through his grace that we become pleasing to God, lovable by him
with the same love with which he loves his Son. At the Last Supper, Jesus asked
his Father for this very thing — “so that the world may know that thou hast sent
me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me” (Jn 17:23). “Notice”, St
John Chrysostom points out, “that Paul does not say that this grace has been
given us for no purpose but that it has been given us to make us pleasing and lo-
vable in his eyes, now that we are purified of our sins” (”Hom. on Eph, ad loc.”).

11-14. The Apostle now contemplates a further divine blessing — the implemen-
tation of the “mystery” through the Redemption wrought by Christ: God calls the
Jews (vv. 11f) and the Gentiles (v. 13) together, to form a single people (v. 14).
Paul first refers to the Jewish people, of which he himself is a member, which is
why he uses the term “we” (v. 12). He then speaks of the Gentile Christians and
refers to them as “you” (v. 13).

11-12. The Jewish people’s expectations have been fulfilled in Christ: he has
brought the Kingdom of God and the messianic gifts, designed in the first in-
stance for Israel as its inheritance (cf. Mt 4:17; 12:28; Lk 4:16-22). God’s inten-
tion in selecting Israel was to form a people of his own (cf. Ex 19:5) that would
glorify him and proclaim to the nations its hope in a coming Messiah. “God, with
loving concern contemplating, and making preparation for, the salvation of the
whole human race, in a singular undertaking chose for himself a people to whom
he would entrust his promises. By his covenant with Abraham (cf. Gen 15:18)
and, through Moses, with the race of Israel (cf. Ex 24:8), he did acquire a people
for himself, and to them he revealed himself in words and deeds as the one, true,
living God, so that Israel might experience the ways of God with men. Moreover,
by listening to the voice of God speaking to them through the prophets, they had
steadily to understand his ways more fully and more clearly, and make them
more widely known among the nations (cf. Ps 21:28-9; 95:1-3; Is 2:1-4; Jer 3:
17)” (Vatican II, “Dei Verbum”, 14).

St Paul emphasizes that even before the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the
just of the Old Testament acted in line with their belief in the promised Messiah
(cf. Gal 3:11; Rom 1:17); not only did they look forward to his coming but their
hope was nourished by faith in Christ as a result of their acceptance of God’s
promise. As later examples of this same faith we might mention Zechariah and
Elizabeth; Simeon and Anna; and, above all, St Joseph. St Joseph’s faith was
“full, confident, complete”, St. Escriva comments. “It expressed itself in an ef-
fective dedication to the will of God and an intelligent obedience. With faith went
love. His faith nurtured his love of God, who was fulfilling the promises made to
Abraham, Jacob and Moses, and his affection for Mary his wife and his fatherly
affection for Jesus. This faith, hope and love would further the great mission
which God was beginning in the world through, among others, a carpenter in
Galilee — the redemption of mankind” (”Christ Is Passing By”, 42).

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

4 posted on 12/07/2012 10:00:44 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Luke 1:26-38

The Annunciation and Incarnation of the Son of God

[26] In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee
named Nazareth, [27] to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph,
of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. [28] And he came to her
and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” [29] But she was greatly trou-
bled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might

[30] And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor
with God. [31] And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and
you shall call His name Jesus. [32] He will be great, and will be called the Son
of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David,
[33] and He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His Kingdom there
will be no end.”

[34] And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no husband?”
[35] And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the po-
wer of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be
called holy, the Son of God. [36] And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her
old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was
called barren. [37] For with God nothing will be impossible.” [38] And Mary said,
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your
word.” And the angel departed from her.


26-38. Here we contemplate our Lady who was “enriched from the first instant of
her conception with the splendor of an entirely unique holiness; [...] the virgin of
Nazareth is hailed by the heralding angel, by divine command, as ‘full of grace’
(cf. Luke 1:28), and to the heavenly messenger she replies, ‘Behold the hand-
maid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word’ (Luke 1:38). Thus
the daughter of Adam, Mary, consenting to the word of God, became the Mother
of Jesus. Committing herself wholeheartedly to God’s saving will and impeded
by no sin, she devoted herself totally, as a handmaid of the Lord, to the person
and work of her Son, under and with Him, serving the mystery of Redemption,
by the grace of Almighty God. Rightly, therefore, the Fathers (of the Church)
see Mary not merely as passively engaged by God, but as freely cooperating
in the work of man’s salvation through faith and obedience” (Vatican II, “Lumen
Gentium”, 56).

The annunciation to Mary and incarnation of the Word constitute the deepest
mystery of the relationship between God and men and the most important event
in the history of mankind: God becomes man, and will remain so forever, such is
the extent of His goodness and mercy and love for all of us. And yet on the day
when the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity assumed frail human nature in
the pure womb of the Blessed Virgin, it all happened quietly, without fanfare of
any kind.

St. Luke tells the story in a very simple way. We should treasure these words
of the Gospel and use them often, for example, practising the Christian custom
of saying the Angelus every day and reflecting on the five Joyful Mysteries of the

27. God chose to be born of a virgin; centuries earlier He disclosed this through
the prophet Isaiah (cf. Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:22-23). God, “before all ages made
choice of, and set in her proper place, a mother for His only-begotten Son from
whom He, after being made flesh, should be born in the blessed fullness of time:
and He continued His persevering regard for her in preference to all other crea-
tures, to such a degree that for her alone He had singular regard” (Pius IX, “Inef-
fabilis Deus,” 2). This privilege granted to our Lady of being a virgin and a mother
at the same time is a unique gift of God. This was the work of the Holy Spirit
“who at the conception and the birth of the Son so favored the Virgin Mother as
to impart fruitfulness to her while preserving inviolate her perpetual virginity” (”St.
Pius V Catechism,” I, 4, 8). Paul VI reminds us of this truth of faith: “We believe
that the Blessed Mary, who ever enjoys the dignity of virginity, was the Mother of
the incarnate Word, of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (”Creed of the People of
God”, 14).

Although many suggestions have been made as to what the name Mary means,
most of the best scholars seem to agree that Mary means “lady”. However, no
single meaning fully conveys the richness of the name.

28. “Hail, full of grace”: literally the Greek text reads “Rejoice!”, obviously referring
to the unique joy over the news which the angel is about to communicate.

“Full of grace”: by this unusual form of greeting the archangel reveals Mary’s
special dignity and honor. The Fathers and Doctors of the Church “taught that
this singular, solemn and unheard-of-greeting showed that all the divine graces
reposed in the Mother of God and that she was adorned with all the gifts of the
Holy Spirit”, which meant that she “was never subject to the curse”, that is, was
preserved from all sin. These words of the archangel in this text constitute one
of the sources which reveal the dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception (cf.
Pius IX, “Ineffabilis Deus”; Paul VI, “Creed of the People of God”).

“The Lord is with you!”: these words are not simply a greeting (”the Lord be with
you”) but an affirmation (”the Lord is with you”), and they are closely connected
with the Incarnation. St. Augustine comments by putting these words on the
archangel’s lips: “He is more with you than He is with me: He is in your heart,
He takes shape within you, He fills your soul, He is in your womb” (”Sermo De
Nativitate Domini”, 4).

Some important Greek manuscripts and early translations add at the end of the
verse: “Blessed are you among women!”, meaning that God will exalt Mary over
all women. She is more excellent than Sarah, Hannah, Deborah, Rachel, Judith,
etc., for only she has the supreme honor of being chosen to be the Mother of

29-30. Our Lady is troubled by the presence of the archangel and by the confu-
sion truly humble people experience when they receive praise.

30. The Annunciation is the moment when our Lady is given to know the voca-
tion which God planned for her from eternity. When the archangel sets her mind
at ease by saying, “Do not be afraid, Mary,” he is helping her to overcome that
initial fear which a person normally experiences when God gives him or her a
special calling. The fact that Mary felt this fear does not imply the least trace
of imperfection in her: hers is a perfectly natural reaction in the face of the super-
natural. Imperfection would arise if one did not overcome this fear or rejected the
advice of those in a position to help — as St. Gabriel helped Mary.

31-33. The archangel Gabriel tells the Blessed Virgin Mary that she is to be the
Mother of God by reminding her of the words of Isaiah which announced that the
Messiah would be born of a virgin, a prophecy which will find its fulfillment in Mary
(cf. Matthew 1:22-23; Isaiah 7:14).

He reveals that the Child will be “great”: His greatness comes from His being
God, a greatness He does not lose when He takes on the lowliness of human
nature. He also reveals that Jesus will be the king of the Davidic dynasty sent by
God in keeping with His promise of salvation; that His Kingdom will last forever,
for His humanity will remain forever joined to His divinity; that “He will be called
Son of the Most High”, that is that He really will be the Son of the Most High
and will be publicly recognized as such, that is, the Child will be the Son of God.

The archangel’s announcement evokes the ancient prophecies which foretold
these prerogatives. Mary, who was well-versed in Sacred Scripture, clearly rea-
lized that she was to be the Mother of God.

34-38. Commenting on this passage Bl. John Paul II said: “’Virgo fidelis’, the faith-
ful Virgin. What does this faithfulness of Mary mean? What are the dimensions
of this faithfulness? The first dimension is called search. Mary was faithful first of
all when she began, lovingly, to seek the deep sense of God’s plan in her and for
the world. ‘Quomodo fiet?’ How shall this be?, she asked the Angel of the An-
nunciation [...].”

“The second dimension of faithfulness is called reception, acceptance. The quo-
modo fiet?’ is changed, on Mary’s lips, to a ‘fiat’: Let it be done, I am ready, I ac-
cept. This is the crucial moment of faithfulness, the moment in which man per-
ceives that he will never completely understand the ‘how’: that there are in God’s
plan more areas of mystery than of clarity; that is, however he may try, he will
never succeed in understanding it completely [...].”

“The third dimension of faithfulness is consistency to live in accordance with what
one believes; to adapt one’s own life to the object of one’s adherence. To accept
misunderstanding, persecutions, rather than a break between what one practises
and what one believes: this is consistency[...].”

“But all faithfulness must pass the most exacting test, that of duration. Therefore,
the fourth dimension of faithfulness is constancy. It is easy to be consistent for a
day or two. It is difficult and important to be consistent for one’s whole life. It is
easy to be consistent in the hour of enthusiasm, it is difficult to be so in the hour
of tribulation. And only a consistency that lasts throughout the whole life can be
called faithfulness. Mary’s ‘fiat’ in the Annunciation finds its fullness in the silent
‘fiat’ that she repeats at the foot of the Cross” (”Homily in Mexico City Cathedral”,
26 January 1979).

34. Mary believed in the archangel’s words absolutely; she did not doubt as Ze-
chariah had done (cf. 1:18). Her question, “How can this be?”, expresses her
readiness to obey the will of God even though at first sight it implied a contradic-
tion: on the one hand, she was convinced that God wished her to remain a virgin;
on the other, here was God also announcing that she would become a mother.
The archangel announces God’s mysterious design, and what had seemed im-
possible, according to the laws of nature, is explained by a unique intervention
on the part of God.

Mary’s resolution to remain a virgin was certainly something very unusual, not in
line with the practice of righteous people under the Old Covenant, for, as St. Au-
gustine explains, “particularly attentive to the propagation and growth of the peo-
ple of God, through whom the Prince and Savior of the world might be prophesied
and be born, the saints were obliged to make use of the good of matrimony” (”De
Bono Matrimonii”, 9, 9). However, in the Old Testament, there were some who, in
keeping with God’s plan, did remain celibate — for example, Jeremiah, Elijah, Eli-
seus and John the Baptist. The Blessed Virgin, who received a very special inspi-
ration of the Holy Spirit to practise virginity, is a first-fruit of the New Testament,
which will establish the excellence of virginity over marriage while not taking from
the holiness of the married state, which it raises to the level of a sacrament (cf.
“Gaudium Et Spes”, 48).

35. The “shadow” is a symbol of the presence of God. When Israel was journe-
ying through the wilderness, the glory of God filled the Tabernacle and a cloud co-
vered the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 40:34-36). And when God gave Moses the
tablets of the Law, a cloud covered Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:15-16); and also, at
the Transfiguration of Jesus the voice of God the Father was heard coming out of
a cloud (Luke 9:35).

At the moment of the Incarnation the power of God envelops our Lady — an ex-
pression of God’s omnipotence. The Spirit of God — which, according to the ac-
count in Genesis (1:2), moved over the face of the waters, bringing things to life
— now comes down on Mary. And the fruit of her womb will be the work of the Ho-
ly Spirit. The Virgin Mary, who herself was conceived without any stain of sin (cf.
Bl. Pius IX, “Ineffabilis Deus”) becomes, after the Incarnation, a new tabernacle
of God. This is the mystery we recall every day when saying the Angelus.

38. Once she learns of God’s plan, our Lady yields to God’s will with prompt obe-
dience, unreservedly. She realizes the disproportion between what she is going
to become — the Mother of God — and what she is — a woman. However, this is
what God wants to happen and for Him nothing is impossible; therefore no one
should stand in His way. So Mary, combining humility and obedience, responds
perfectly to God’s call: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done ac-
cording to your word.”

“At the enchantment of this virginal phrase, the Word became flesh” (St. J. Escri-
va, “Holy Rosary”, first joyful mystery). From the pure body of Mary, God shaped
a new body, He created a soul out of nothing, and the Son of God united Himself
with this body and soul: prior to this He was only God; now He is still God but al-
so man. Mary is now the Mother of God. This truth is a dogma of faith, first defined
by the Council of Ephesus (431). At this point she also begins to be the spiritual
Mother of all mankind. What Christ says when He is dying — ‘Behold, your son...,
behold, your mother” (John 19:26-27) — simply promulgates what came about si-
lently at Nazareth. “With her generous ‘fiat’ (Mary) became, through the working
of the Spirit, the Mother of God, but also the Mother of the living, and, by receiving
into her womb the one Mediator, she became the true Ark of the Covenant and
true Temple of God” (Paul VI, “Marialis Cultus”, 6).

The Annunciation shows us the Blessed Virgin as perfect model of “purity” (the
RSV “I have no husband” is a euphemism); of “humility” (”Behold, I am the hand-
maid of the Lord”); of “candor” and “simplicity” (”How can this be?”); of “obedi-
ence” and “lively faith” (”Let it be done to me according to your word”). “Following
her example of obedience to God, we can learn to serve delicately without being
slavish. In Mary, we don’t find the slightest trace of the attitude of the foolish vir-
gins, who obey, but thoughtlessly. Our Lady listens attentively to what God wants,
ponders what she doesn’t fully understand and asks about what she doesn’t know.
Then she gives herself completely to doing the divine will: ‘Behold, I am the hand-
maid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word’. Isn’t that marvel-
lous? The Blessed Virgin, our teacher in all we do, shows us here that obedience
to God is not servile, does not bypass our conscience. We should be inwardly
moved to discover the ‘freedom of the children of God’ (cf. Romans 8: 21)” (St. J.
Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 173).

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

5 posted on 12/07/2012 10:02:21 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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