By Christopher Wells
On Christmas Eve, which this year falls on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Pope Francis reflected on the Annunciation during the weekly Angelus.
The Holy Father noted the contrast between “the promises of the Angel and Mary’s answer.” The Angel’s greeting is a long revelation, which becomes even more detailed in response to Mary’s request for an explanation. The Child that will be born of this humble girl from Nazareth will be called the Son of the Most High: it is not possible to conceive a higher dignity than this.
Mary’s response, on the other hand, is a brief phrase: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word.” She does not speak of “glory or privilege,” the Pope said, but only of availability and service.”
The contrast between the words of the Angel and of Mary, the Pope said, is significant:
“It makes us understand that Mary is truly humble and doesn’t seek to show off. She recognizes that she is small in the presence of God, and is content to be so. At the same time, she is aware that the realization of God’s project depends upon her response, and so she is called to adhere to it with her whole being.”
Pope Francis said that the day’s Gospel reading shows us that Mary’s attitude at the Annunciation corresponds perfectly to the Son of God when He comes into the world. Mary says, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord”; Jesus, the Son of God who becomes the Son of Mary, says at the Incarnation, “Behold, I come to do your will, O God.” And so, the Pope said, the Madonna is revealed as the perfect collaborator of God’s project.”
Pope Francis concluded his reflection by encouraging all of us. “While we admire our Mother for her response to the call and mission of God,” he said, “let us ask her to help each of us to welcome the project of God in our life with sincere humility and courageous generosity.”