When the angel Gabriel came to ask Mary’s consent to the unique honor and extravagant joy of being the Mother of God, the Lord did not issue an order. Instead, he asks, “Will you?”
This singular honor was proposed only to Mary, one woman among the millions God created. In this example, we discern a pattern of action observed by God in regard to all souls.
God exercises a mind-boggling respect for every soul. He respects our freedom more than we ourselves do. He respects the secrets and the mindset of each person in a way we cannot match.
God asks this young woman: “Will you be the Mother of the Word who is going to take flesh?”
What a radical turn of events for this young woman! The thought of becoming a mother completely changed every aspect of her future, as she had anticipated it.
However, as soon as she realized that this message came from God, her creator and master, she replied at once, in words reflecting her total contingency, “Ecce ancilla Domini” (“Here am I, the servant of the Lord,” Lk 1:38). I have nothing else to say to my master.
Servant of God Père Jacques de Jésus
Conference 6, Virginity in God and in Mary
Wednesday Evening, 8 September 1943
Jacques, P 2005, Listen to the silence: a retreat with Père Jacques, translated from the French and edited by Murphy F, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
Featured image: This is a detailed image of an early 14th-century sculpture of the Virgin Mary at the moment of the Annunciation, whose delicate figure is beautifully carved from limestone; traces of the original paint can still be seen. It was sculpted in Paris between 1300 and 1310. Interrupted in her spiritual meditations, the Virgin Mary modestly recoils from the archangel Gabriel (now lost), whose message foretells the birth of the Christ Child. In her right hand, she holds a prayer book; her left hand modestly holds her veil over her bosom and seems to gesture to her heart, as if to say, “who, me?” The statuette’s sensitively carved features and slight smile, elongated proportions, and graceful draperies show stylistic analogies to courtly art in Paris. This sculpture is part of the Medieval Art Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Image credit and gallery label: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Open Access (Public domain).