St. Augustine taught that there are three miracles in the story of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38). First, that a virgin conceived. Second, that God became man. But the greatest miracle was this: Mary said, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; let it be with me according to thy word.” In other words, she said, “Yes.”
Three miracles on this, the day of the Annunciation, and two major decisions. God had made His decision to choose a girl named Mary to bear the Christ Child in His own time; God conceived her in His heart the way He conceives all of us, except He conceived her immaculate, preparing Mary and therefore the whole of mankind for salvation. But God’s decision on this day was about time: In His wisdom God decided that it would be in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy that the fullness of time would invade earthly time, that God’s time would overtake human time. God decided on that day that right then would be the acceptable time, the moment the impossible would happen. And so entered Gabriel.
“Hail, full of grace,” Gabriel said to the bewildered and frightened young Mary, and the whole world stopped. Fr. Ron Connor, one of my mentors in DC, is fond of saying that at that moment the God whom the whole creation cannot contain came to a screeching halt in front of a teenage girl, that the angels held their breath, that time itself stopped as all of Heaven looked upon that scene, watched for Mary’s reaction, waited on her decision. The mighty Gabriel himself, Gabriel who stands before God, Gabriel who buried Moses, Gabriel who will announce the Last Day, Gabriel himself became Gabriel the one who asks, the one who waits for a teenage girl to make her decision. Gabriel didn’t have to wait long, for the second decision of that day, the most important decision in human history, was made by the most formidable woman in human history.
And Mary said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” She said “Yes.” Out of the strength of her weakness, out of the strength of her low estate, out of the strength of her Immaculate Heart, Mary said yes. Mary said yes to bearing the Christ Child, yes to bearing the joys and burdens of being the Mother of the Son of the Living God, she said yes to the sword that would pierce her own heart. Mary said yes, and in saying yes she fulfilled what she already was, the handmaid of the Lord, the mother of our salvation, she became the Mother of all Christians.
Mary said yes, and in saying yes gave us the whole of the Christian faith as well. All doctrine, all dogma, all tradition, the whole of the Christian life is summed up in saying “Yes” to God. We will not all receive the will of God by the mouth of an angel, nor will we be asked to carry God in our wombs, but we will know the will of God by way of Scripture, tradition, and prayer, and we are asked to carry God in our hearts. And at the Last Day, we will come to see Blessed Mary seated at the right hand of her Son, and with Gabriel and the whole company of heaven praise the Father forever. All we have to do is say “Yes.”