The faith of Mary in the light of the mystery of the Annunciation was the theme of Benedict XVI’s catechesis during the last general audience of 2012, celebrated in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.
In the annunciation the angel greets Mary with the words “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you”. “This greeting is an invitation to rejoice, and announces the end of the sadness of the world in relation to the limits of life, suffering … the darkness of the evil that seems to obscure the light of divine goodness. It is a greeting that marks the beginning of the Gospel, the Good News”, explained the Pope.
The reason for the invitation to rejoice offered to the Virgin is in the second part of the phrase: “The Lord is with you”. In Mary “the anticipation of the definitive coming of God is made tangible; the living God dwells within her”. The expression “full of grace” further clarifies the source of Mary’s joy, which “arises from her communion with God, … from being the dwelling of the Holy Spirit. … Mary is the being who has, in a singular way, opened the door to the Creator, who has placed herself in His hands, without limits” and lives with “care to recognize the signs of God in the journey of His people; she enters into a story of faith and hope in God’s promises, which constitute the very fabric of her existence. … Like Abraham, Mary entrusts herself entirely to the word announced by God’s messenger, and becomes the model and mother of all believers”.
Benedict XVI underlined another important aspect: “the openness of the soul to God and to His action in faith also includes an element of obscurity. The human being’s relationship with God does not eliminate the distance between the Creator and His creature. … But he who, like Mary, opens himself completely to God, reaches acceptance of divine will, even though it is mysterious and often does not correspond to our own wishes. … It is thus for Mary – her faith experiences the joy of the Annunciation, but passes also through the darkness of the crucifixion of the Son, before finally arriving at the light of the Resurrection”.
“This is not different to the journey of faith each of us takes: we encounter moments of light but also periods in which God seems to be absent, his silence weighs heavily in our hearts and his will does not correspond to our own”, commented the Holy Father. “The more we open ourselves to God … like Abraham and like Maria, the more He renders us able, through His presence, to live every moment in life in the peace and certainty of His loyalty and His love. However, this means leaving behind ourselves and our own plans, so that the Word of God might be the guiding light for our thoughts and actions”.
After losing Jesus in the Temple, Mary “must renew that profound faith with which she answered ‘yes’ to the Annunciation. … And Mary’s ‘yes’ to the will of God, to the obedience of faith, is repeated throughout her life up to its most difficult moment, that of the Cross”.
“There is a fundamental attitude that Mary adopts in relation to the events of her life”, explained the Pope. “We see that she ‘treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart’. We might say that she … arranged every single element, every word, every event as part of a greater whole and, comparing and conserving them, recognised that everything originates from God’s will. Mary does not stop at an initial superficial comprehension of what is happening in her life, but rather knows how to observe in depth, allowing herself to be questioned by events, elaborating upon them, discriminating among them, and thus acquiring the comprehension that only faith may guarantee. It is the profound humility of Mary’s obedient faith that welcomes also what she is not able to comprehend in the action of God, allowing God to open her mind and heart.”
“The solemnity of the Birth of the Lord, which we will soon celebrate, invites us to experience the same humility and obedience of faith. The glory of God is not made manifest in the triumph or power of a king, it does not shine from a resplendent palace, but rather finds its dwelling in the womb of a virgin, and reveals itself in the poverty of a child. The omnipotence of God, also in our life, acts with the often silent strength of truth and love. Faith tells us, therefore, that in the end the defenseless power of the Child triumphs over the noise of worldly powers”.