“Let it be done to me according to your word.”
(Luke 1: 26-38)
Mary is the first evangelized person who evangelizes. In the beginning of the Gospel, she is introduced as the model to the readers. If the readers want what Mary experienced and they ask for it, it will happen: “Let it be done to me according to your word.” Mary is the first ‘Yes’ in answer to God’s eternal ‘Yes’ to humanity.
In her, the Word becomes flesh on behalf of us all. Through the means of the Word in the Gospel, God expects to become flesh in each one of us. If children take after their mother, then believers are like Mary. Their beatitude is that of faith: “Blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Luke 1: 45).
Her maternity, before being from the womb, is from the ear. To the one who says: “Happy the womb that bore you and the breasts you sucked!”, Jesus answers: “Still happier are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11: 28). If we listen to Jesus, we become like Mary: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the Word of God and put it into practice” (Luke 8: 21).
This initial scene of the Gospel fulfils the promise of the Acts of the Apostles: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and then you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1: 8).
In Mary, Pentecost is anticipated when the first community will be born, gathered around her as Mother of the Church. Every child is like the mother.
The account starts by pointing out the place and the time, the two co-ordinates that define each one of us: here and now, I am the only one in existence. The time is the sixth month of John the Baptist’s conception that represents the promise. It is an incomplete time: like the human beings who are created on the sixth, but are meant to reach the seventh day.
The present is always an incomplete time. It is, however, the only one we have. The past is no longer there, the future not yet. This transient time that I am living is my contact with Eternity: if I listen to the Word, I pass from promise to fulfilment, from being incomplete to fullness. The place is Nazareth where everyday life enfolds. Every time and place is the when and the where of the Word: not yesterday or tomorrow and elsewhere, but here and now God speaks to me.
The means by which God acts is the angel (i.e. the one who announces the Word). The Word is intelligence and love, communication and communion: the Word is God. By it, God has gifted us with the world and ourselves as well; and also wants to give us Himself. Human beings who listen to Him, become God’s interlocutors and partners. If they listen and respond, in them God’s plan is fulfilled by which He wants to be all in all (1 Cor 15: 28). For one becomes the Word he has listened to. “Rejoice, 0 full of grace, the Lord is with you.”
The angel’s proposition is a summary of the Gospel and key to reading every passage. It is a command to rejoice because “My name is grace, joy, beauty, goodness, gratuitousness, gift and love of God on my behalf” (all words that are related in Greek!).
The name of God, in fact, becomes a complement of accompaniment: with you! The angel, i.e. the Word, explains to Mary how God is with her: He wants to be conceived, given birth to, called by name and thus become ‘one flesh’ with her, and this is on the strength of the Spirit who is God’s love, God’s life.
Mary answers ‘Yes’ to God and the angel departs from her. Where does he go? He comes to us to offer the same proposition. This account, in fact, comes from Mary who reminisces and narrates her experience to Luke so that it may become his also. He is telling it to us so that it may become ours as well. We, in turn, tell it to others.
The chain of witnesses has in Mary, mother of the Church, its beginnings. In as much as she is evangelized, she is the first to evangelize and thus she becomes the model of every evangelizer and of the whole Church that is called to give flesh to the Word in history, welcoming it and handing it over. Evangelization is to accept, like Mary, my true name (God’s love for me), God’s name (His being with me), and His project of becoming flesh of my flesh. (Fr. Silvano Fausti)
Reflect and Share
• How familiar am I with the Word? Is my listening to the Word becoming Mary’s “Yes”?
• Am I an advertising person or a witness?