In a small insignificant town of Nazareth, in a humble house of a poor carpenter, an angel from Heaven came to Mary to tell her that she will be the mother of the Creator of the Universe! John said that everything was created through Him (the Logos) and nothing exists that did not exist through Him. What divine irony! The most important message ever delivered to a human being and for the sake of all human beings happened quietly in a small poor obscure looked-down- upon town of Nazareth and given to a young woman who did not even understand what is being told her and its full implication; a maiden who cannot even determine whom she wants to marry.
Zifarelli, the Italian director, many years ago made a movie, entitled Jesus of Nazareth. There he made the best version of the Anuncation acted out. Mary was sleeping and suddenly she hears the voice. She was not dreaming. Zifarelli used light in a dark dingy little house. Not a direct light but a light softly shining on Mary. It was as if God was caressing her with the soft life. Mary looks at the light and the dialog begins. Zifarelli used the technic of “thinking out loud” in movie monologues. It happens in her innermost being. She was not dreaming as Joseph was addressed by an angel to take mother and child and flee to Egypt. Zifarelli understood the heart and person of Mary.
Most important and significant things happen best in silence and simplicity of the heart, in complete trust in God. I used to smile when priests giving homily on the annunciation waxed dramatic: “And there was Mary humbly kneeling in front of the angel Gabriel waiting for her answer. And the whole inhabitants of heaven, the universe were waiting in suspense for her answer. Nice, but not close. With Mary there is no answer but yes. Not by constraint but out of love. She dedicated herself body and soul to God her Beloved. That is why she was a virgin by choice.
It is the belief that if God wants to do something with us He can and God should be allowed to do so freely. The Annunciation is first and foremost about a God whose very essence, whose very being is a self-Sharing Being, God is Trinitarian; Mary is not a favorite of God. God’s favorite is humanity, God’s children, all of us. As a matter of fact she played a role in God’s plan of salvation. But he found favor in Mary because she is the perfect human born of human. Mary is at the center of God’s purpose. She is immaculate because she will be conceiving an immaculate son. Mary was immaculate not for her own sake, she became the mother of God not for her own glory. Her fiat is an assent to God’s plan of salvation. It was a fiat to her Beloved. That God’s son will live and die and resurrect among humans. Mary’s fiat is a complete trust in a God who wants only the good for his children. The Annunciation therefore is the first Christian Trinitarian revelation on the nature of God – God is Love and Love has to be shared. God is love and therefore is passionate about human beings. God is a loving saving God. Mary is God’s realized plan of what all human beings should be. But since there is no one to be found among human beings that would win God’s favor therefore He graced Mary by freeing her from sin through the merits of His and her own son.
The great passion of God is not Mary, it is us, human beings, all human beings. Mary by her fiat joins God in His loving plan and therefore she loves us as her Son and the Father loves us. The great passion of God is to save humankind through Mary. But even God’s saving act has a purpose. It is not simply to forgive sins. If it was only that then it would for us a kind of Paradise Revisited, or a One-More-Time-But- This- time –with-feeling thing, or back to the future. Forgiveness leads to a share in the very nature of God because we are united in God if we join ourselves with His Son Jesus our Lord in his passion and death and thus resurrection. The life of resurrection transforms human beings into children of God. Not simply a cleansed humanity. The relation of Adam and EVEN before the fall is strictly God to creature. If they obey they will benefit the generosity of God. Mary is much more than Eve. Mary is daughter of the Father and spouse of the Holy Spirit. We have become sons and daughters in Christ. This is not said of Adam and Eve even before their fall. God’s love for us is absolutely free. God is not obliged to save us in the way He did. It is simply that God is acting out his very essence. Love essentially shares. This should be the spirit of all human actions – an attitude that is based on the LOVE of God for all. Christians are at the forefront and are the missionaries of this LOVE – to love, nourish, defend all human beings and if they need to die then they must die for others. Wouldn’t it be great that if one day a huge announcement is made to all peoples of the world who have not heard of God’s love – who are lost to explain the evil and sadness in the word – the Christians are coming, the Christians are coming.