MARY: OUR CHANNEL OF SALVATION
BY VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
1st Reading: Is 7:10-14;8:10; Psalm: 40. R.v. 8a. 9a; 2nd Reading: Heb10:4-10; Gospel: Lk 1:26-38
In the Annunciation encounter, we see a sharp contrast between the despairing event at the beginning of creation and the hopeful event at the beginning of recreation.
While Eve was visited by the fallen angel Lucifer disguised as a serpent, Mary encountered the heavenly angel Gabriel illumined in celestial light. While the serpent (the devil) brought a message of damnation, the angel Gabriel brought the message of salvation. The beguiling serpent overlooked the sanctifying grace inherent in Eve before the fall, whilst the angel Gabriel accentuated the fullness of grace inherent in Mary in these words: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” (Lk 1:28). Eve lost God’s friendship by saying No to God’s command; Mary won God’s favour and said Yes to God’s request. Eve ate the fruit of disobedience and conceived generational flawed progenies; but Mary with her obedient fiat conceived a divine offspring, the Redeemer of the generational fall.
These contrasting interlocution between the event of the fall and the advent of the Incarnation trumpets God’s divine plan to purge off the damnatory consequence of the Tempter’s action. God, in renewing creation, used the obedience of a Woman to correct the disobedience of another woman. God is on a mission of restoring that supernatural disposition that the perfects the soul through sanctifying grace in Jesus Christ by whom we were imbued with the same grace at the beginning of creation but lost it after the fall. The mystery of the incarnation is the triumphant tale of God’s victory over Satan who beguiled Eve and consequently snatched the innocence of Eve’s descendants for ages.
Mary is the gateway through which this salvific mission will come to fruition. Mary, full of grace conceived the Divine Son of God who came to perfect our souls with the gift of sanctifying grace through the sacraments. “Sanctifying grace is an habitual gift, a stable supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love.”(CCC 2000). Sanctifying grace is simply the life of God within our soul; that grace that heals our soul of sin and it make holy so that we can participate in the life of God. We lost this grace at the fall of Adam. This was what Jesus came to restore again.
The agent of this sanctifying grace of God are the sacraments of the Church. Through the sacrament of Baptism (which is a symbol of Christ’s death), we are cleansed of original sin and imbued with that sanctifying grace that was lost through disobedience. The soul of the baptised therefore qualifies entry into the kingdom of God to share in the life of God.
However, there is something that baptism did not take away: the temporal consequences of sin. Namely, the ability to suffer, mortality, and susceptibility to disordered desires (concupiscence).The actual grace of God becomes handy here. It is that grace of God that enables us to carry out good actions despite the drive of concupiscence.
So, the solemnity of the annunciation which we celebrate today reminds us of God’s divine plan through Jesus Christ to save our souls from eternal death; and that through this divine action, God has provided us with the enabling grace to keep our souls holy. The role of Mary in this divine salvific plan suggests that as adoptive children of God made possible by baptism, we have been empowered to war against Satan and all his works and empty promises as we journey towards our heavenly home.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord God, we thank you for the gift of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ who came to save us from sin. Help us to appreciate the gift of your grace through our own human effort. Amen.