"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."
Church’s faith on Jesus’ link with Holy Spitrit is actually based on the Word of God: “The Holy Spirit”, the Angel Gabriel announces to Mary, “will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Lk 1:35), And Joseph received an affirmation from the angel about his future wife : ‘That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 1:20). Human nature is united with Word of God in supreme grace because of the direct intervention of Holy Spirit in the Incarnation. On which the Grace started and embraced the whole humanity.
Holy Spirit’s role along with Mother Mary is made subject to many protestant schools in history. Being a mystery we need deeper understanding of what God told us about this event. St Luke says that the Holy Spirit will come upon Mary and overshadow her as power from on high. From history, in Genesis we know that God used this ‘ Power’ of his breath for his creative activities. He breath forth life using his ‘Power’ of creation.: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth” (Psalms 33 :6). Another reading, “should take back his spirit to himself, and gather to himself his breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust” (Job 34:14-15) makes it clear that every living being is subject to this ‘breath’ of God. . Ezekiel’s example of skeletons is just another example that Spirit’s intervention is essential for Isreal . (Ezekiel 37:10).
“The conception and birth of Jesus Christ are in fact the greatest work accomplished by the Holy Spirit in the history of creation and salvation: as St. Aquinas explains …….. ‘By the power of the Holy Spirit’ the mystery of the ‘hypostatic union’ is brought about-that is, the union of the divine nature and the human nature, of the divinity and the humanity in the one Person of the Word-Son. When at the moment of the Annunciation Mary utters her “fiat”: “Be it done unto me according to your word -she conceives in a virginal way a man, the Son of Man, who is the Son of God. By means of this ‘humanization’ of the Word-Son the self-communication of God reaches its definitive fullness in the history of creation and salvation” (Dominum et Vivificantem, Para. 50).
Thus a virgin made fruitful with a new Covenant: a man who is the Son of God begins to live, and prepares to die for the humanity. And another thing is that never before this event never Holy Spirit descended directly upon a woman to make her a mother and none of the miraculous births in Israel occurred and the intervention happened for the mother but for the child (Isaac, Samson, St John of the Baptist). And that is sufficient reason to believe in Mary’s role through the entire salvation process beside her only Son.
In fact the purpose of incarnation is the answer of God to humanity for it’s wildest desire to be like a God, which caused the first sin in Eden. “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires”. 2Peter 1: 4.
“When the Word came upon the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Spirit entered her together with the Word; in the Spirit the Word formed a body for himself and adapted it to himself, desiring to unite all creation through himself and lead it to the Father” St Athanasius.
“The Only-begotten Son of God, wanting us to be partakers of his divinity, assumed our human nature so that, having become man, he might make men gods” (St Aquinas in Fest of Corpus Christi.)
The power that “overshadows” Mary recalls the cloud of the Lord which covered the tent in the desert (Exodus 40:34) or filled the temple (1 Kings 8:10). Thus it is the assuring presence and warming closeness of the covenant of God. It is very right to descend upon God’s handmaid, the virgin Mary. The humility of Mary brought the curtain so that the prophecy come true: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9. And St Ignatius made it more clear : “ Mary’s virginity and her birth were hidden from the prince of this world, as was the death if the Lord. These are the three resounding mysteries that were accomplished in the quiet stillness of God”.
Now Mary’s words: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” It is interesting whether we can say this same from our deep heart. This is the foundation of Christian life , believing that I am a handmaid of Lord and allowing the God to plan the incidents for us. It is really difficult to believe that I am a handmaid of God. If I am a handmaid of God I will do exactly the same things He is doing. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” John 15:5. So the reason why we feel it is harder to follow those same acts done by Him is that we don’t have that obedience of Mary that reflected from Moses by calling himself His servant (Exodus 4:10) and we don’t have an understanding that a mission with God will be painful and challenging as every Christian life is.
“If at the moment of the Annunciation, Mary does not yet know of the sacrifice which will mark Christ’s mission, Simeon’s prophecy will enable her to glimpse her Son’s tragic destiny ( Luke 3:34-35). The Virgin will be associated with him in intimate sharing. With her total obedience to God’s will, Mary is ready to live all that divine love may plan for her life, even to the “sword” that will pierce her soul.” L’Osservatore Romano.
Thus the prayer gets more meaningful:
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.