“And the Angel departed from her.”
1. There can be few more beautiful or more fruitful matters for contemplation than the sight and the thoughts of Mary after the Angel had “departed from her.” If there is “joy before the angels of God upon one sinner that doth penance,” what must have been the joy in heaven when the “fiat” of Mary had been spoken, and the gate had thereby been opened by which myriads of sinners were to enter in! The Angel departed with his message of joy, but God did not depart; that instant He began His life as man on earth, the entire possession of her whom He had chosen for His very own. Mary at that moment, the little child lost in bewildering adoration, is the joy of mankind, the joy of all the world, the joy of all the angels, the joy of God the Father, the joy of God the Son, the joy of God the Holy Ghost; and she is the joy of each individual soul that comes into the world and realizes even a little what it possesses in her.
2. What were Mary’s thoughts when she came to herself, and understood what had been done? Within her own body was living the very Son of God; the Son of God was hers for ever; in a special and a very true way she could anticipate the consecrating words of the great High Priest, and of every priest that was to come after: “This is my body–this is my blood.” It was hers, and was God’s free gift to her; even Mary could deserve no such honour; and therefore she would follow up her great act of faith with a jubilant act of humility: “My soul doth magnify the Lord, because He hath regarded the lowliness of His handmaiden.” The Child was hers, blending into one inseparable entity a perfect saint’s love of God, and a perfect mother’s love of a perfect child. In such a union one can scarcely speak of joy, as one feels that joy is an inadequate term when speaking of the consummation in Heaven.
3. And on the other side saints and mystical writers have reveled in the thought of the heart of Jesus Christ when it now for the first time began to beat. They see four new relations. It found a new relation with the Father. Now for the first time can God the Son feel towards the Father, and love the Father, and serve the Father, while confined within the bondage of humanity. He now knows what it is to love, and to be unable to give that love free scope. Now for the first time God the Son has experience of human love for a human being. It knows a child’s love for its mother. And now He sees human nature from the perspective of a human being: “for though He was by nature God, yet He did not set great store on His equality with God: rather, He emptied himself by taking the nature of a slave and becoming like unto men.” Henceforth He is one with man, one with him in his littleness, one with him in his weariness; already His love is not only that of an onlooker, but of one who treads the path alongside.
Summary Meditation Points:
1. Mary after the Annunciation is the joy of all Heaven and earth, the one perfect thing outside of God Himself, in the truest sense “our fallen nature’s solitary boast!”
2. It is easy to follow the affections of the heart of Mary at this moment, and to make them with her–faith and humility, love and adoration, etc.
3. Nor is it difficult to follow and to respond to the first affections of the Heart of Jesus when it first began to beat.
Editor’s Note: This meditation is from Archbishop Alban Goodier’s “The Prince of Peace” (1913).
Art: Virgin Annunciate, Antonello da Messina, 1475, Restored Traditions, used with permission. Mirror of Archbishop Alban Goodier, S.J., www.stmaryscadoganstreet.co.uk, all rights reserved, used with permission.