For December 20 in Advent II
We are too familiar with those words.
The Bible is not familiar with those words, “Full-of-Grace.”
In the ancient Greek Bible, the word for “Full-of-Grace” turns up only this once as a God-given title for Mary.
In the original Greek, “Full-of-Grace” is one word that means graced through and through, graced over the top, graced all the way, completely graced, thoroughly graced, brimming with grace.
It would seem to be a title worthy of heaven itself— immaculate, with no room at all for sin.
Had a human being said such a thing to Mary, a daughter of Israel, she likely would have thought it blasphemous.
Indeed, the Gospel tells us “she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.”
Oddly, the Gospel does not tell us Mary is troubled at having an ANGEL come to her.
Rather, she is greatly troubled that the angel gives her a name befitting heaven.
The Son of Heaven is to receive his own immaculate flesh and blood from the flesh and blood of the immaculate Mary brimming with grace.
Some say that to acknowledge Mary as immaculately preserved against original sin from the first moment of her being is to remove Mary to so high a rank that she is no longer relevant to our real human condition, and no longer available for a real human relationship with us.
I have two answers to that.
First: Mary is not removed from the human race; rather, she is the human race made most noble and most worthy of heaven.
Second: the root cause of unreality and distance in relationships among us is sin.
A woman without sin brings no unreality and no distance into any of her relationships.
She can relate to us more closely and more truly than can any other human person.
What is true of Mary by gracious gift from God is true of Christ Jesus as True God himself and True Man.
Surpassingly exalted and sinless as a man, Christ is the contradiction of all distance and unreality in our relationships.
St. Augustine recognized that, and [in his “Confessions”] wrote to God:
You were within me,
but I was outside....
You were with me,
but I was not with you.
Like her son, Mary is closer to the heart of our own humanity than we are, precisely because she is immaculate and brimming with grace.
She is free of every barrier of sin that could get in the way of the truth and reality of the humanity she shares with us.
She remains a virgin, while also being a mother even in body.
Mary, immaculate and brimming with grace, is made into the overcoming of human contradictions: virginity and motherhood come together in Mary.
It happened with her under the power of God the Holy Spirit.
Nothing is impossible for God.
By the power of God the Holy Spirit, it is possible for a virgin to be a mother.
By the power of God the Holy Spirit, it is possible for God the Eternal Son to be born as the flesh and blood son of the Virgin Mary.
By the power of God the Holy Spirit at Baptism, it is possible for sinners to be royal sons and daughters of God. By the power of God the Holy Spirit, it is possible for the Body and Blood of Christ to be real food and real drink.
By the power of God the Holy Spirit in the flesh and blood that Christ has in common with Mary and us, it is possible for us to rise from the dead, sinless, immaculate, brimming with grace.
The Word of the Lord [2 Pt. 1:3-4] says that by the power of God we can become communicants of divine nature.
The power of God only waits for our lives to give the same answer as Mary.
Behold, the servant of the Lord am I.
According to your word so be it to me.