THE SALUTATION OF THE ANGEL
“And in the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the Angel, being come in, said to her, ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women.'” Luke 1:26-28
1. The evangelist is determined to leave no doubt as to the time, or the place, or the persons, or the circumstances concerned. It is the most momentous event in history that he is about to relate in the next few words; therefore he will be emphatic and clear in his statements. The Angel Gabriel is sent, the same who had been sent to the prophet Daniel, because he was “a man of desires”; the same who had been sent to Zachary, to announce the birth of the Precursor, the special Angel of the Incarnation. He was sent by God, who “ruled from end to end mightily, and disposed all things sweetly,” and had chosen this time, this place, this soul, this circumstance, for the fulfillment of His masterwork. He was sent to this maiden, to this espoused maiden; and of all things the evangelist will have us bear in mind her name: “And the virgin’s name was Mary.”
2. “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women.” Mary is worthy of an Angel’s homage: “Hail” as the French translate the word, “I salute you.” Should not this word alone make her place secure in the hearts of all men? She “is full of grace,” the translation we have given to the word which means “finished or perfected in favour;” as who would say: “I salute you, perfect Lady, perfect before men, perfect in the eyes of God. I salute you because the Lord, my Lord, has chosen you out of millions, abides with you in a special sense, is soon in a still more special sense to abide with you. I salute you, because of all the blessed women that the world has seen, you are the most blessed, and the source of most blessing, so that ‘from this moment all generations shall take up my word and call you blessed.'”
3. With this greeting ringing in our ears it is almost useless to enumerate the countless blessings of Our Lady. She is filled with God as is no other, filled with Jesus Incarnate as is no other, filled with the fruits of a perfect correspondence with grace from her first moment of existence, filled with the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, filled with His twelve fruits, filled with the perfect growth of faith, hope, and charity, filled with the cardinal virtues and all that hinges on them, filled with special graces and privileges of her own, complete immunity from sin, and from anything that could separate her from God, perfect conformity of her every act with the Will of God, Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ, Virgin Mother of all mankind, partaker with her Son in the great work of redemption, exaltation above all creatures and the glory of the human race. It would be easy to multiply this litany.
Summary Meditation Points:
1. The circumstances of the Annunciation are very definite and very clear.
2. The salutation of the Angel teems with meaning in every word; to interpret it aright we need to keep before ourselves the whole teaching of theology.
3. The graces of which Our Lady is full are beyond counting.
Art: The Annunciation, Bartolomé Esteban Perez Murillo, 1655-1650, PD-Worldwide, Wikimedia Commons. Archbishop Alban Goodier, S.J., www.stmaryscadoganstreet.co.uk, all rights reserved, used with permission.