The angel announced that Mary was “full of grace.” This fullness of grace means that there was nothing in the way of Mary’s relationship with God; nothing contrary to her relationship with God. And not only was she without sin, but she was without concupiscence, that is, inclination to sin. Mary was preserved from original sin. Unique amongst humankind since Eve, Mary came into the world without the burden of the Fall. She knew true freedom. She was free from finding sin attractive; however, this does not take away her free will. Mary had the capacity to sin but unlike Eve (who was also free of original sin and lived in harmony with God) Mary chose to obey God rather than disobey.
St Irenaeus, of the second century, wrote:
The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith. (St Irenaeus of Lyons, Adv Haer 3,22,4)
To become the mother of the Saviour, Mary had to be the perfect door through which the perfect God could come into our imperfect world. Where Eve said, ‘No’, Mary said, ‘Yes’. Where Eve’s faith failed, Mary’s stood firm.
God’s purposes for Mary are also God’s purposes for all mankind. Mary shows us the summit of God’s success, for she is perfectly conformed to Christ by grace. She is the summit of God’s business of making Saints. She shows how high humanity can rise with grace.
Saints are made by love. Mary is the greatest saint because she was full of the most perfect love. She was full both of God’s love to Mary and Mary’s love to God. In Mary, God exalted a creature as much as any creature could be exalted. He gave to the “max” in Mary. And Mary gave to the “max” to God. She obeyed the first and greatest commandment, to love God with her whole heart, mind, soul and strength. She loved God simply and purely. God withheld nothing from her, and she withheld nothing from God: “Be it unto me according to thy Word.”
May her response to God be our response to God in the same fullness, simplicity, and purity. Amen.