CCC 148 The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that “with God nothing will be impossible” and so giving her assent: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.”1 Elizabeth greeted her: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”2 It is for this faith that all generations have called Mary blessed.3
CCC 448 Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as “Lord”. This title testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing.4 At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, “Lord” expresses the recognition of the divine mystery of Jesus.5 In the encounter with the risen Jesus, this title becomes adoration: “My Lord and my God!” It thus takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the Christian tradition: “It is the Lord!”6
CCC 495 Called in the Gospels “the mother of Jesus”, Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord”.7 In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Theotokos).8
CCC 523 St. John the Baptist is the Lord’s immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way.9 “Prophet of the Most High”, John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last.10 He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother’s womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being “the friend of the bridegroom”, whom he points out as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”.11 Going before Jesus “in the spirit and power of Elijah”, John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom.12
CCC 717 “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.”13 John was “filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb”14 by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people.15
CCC 2676 This twofold movement of prayer to Mary has found a privileged expression in the Ave Maria:
Hail Mary [or Rejoice, Mary]: the greeting of the angel Gabriel opens this prayer. It is God himself who, through his angel as intermediary, greets Mary. Our prayer dares to take up this greeting to Mary with the regard God had for the lowliness of his humble servant and to exult in the joy he finds in her.16
Full of grace, the Lord is with thee: These two phrases of the angel’s greeting shed light on one another. Mary is full of grace because the Lord is with her. The grace with which she is filled is the presence of him who is the source of all grace. “Rejoice. .. O Daughter of Jerusalem. .. the Lord your God is in your midst.”17 Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the ark of the covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is “the dwelling of God. .. with men.”18 Full of grace, Mary is wholly given over to him who has come to dwell in her and whom she is about to give to the world.
Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. After the angel’s greeting, we make Elizabeth’s greeting our own. “Filled with the Holy Spirit,” Elizabeth is the first in the long succession of generations who have called Mary “blessed.”19 “Blessed is she who believed. .. ”20 Mary is “blessed among women” because she believed in the fulfillment of the Lord’s word. Abraham. because of his faith, became a blessing for all the nations of the earth.21 Mary, because of her faith, became the mother of believers, through whom all nations of the earth receive him who is God’s own blessing: Jesus, the “fruit of thy womb.”
CCC 2677 Holy Mary, Mother of God: With Elizabeth we marvel, “And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”22 Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: “Let it be to me according to your word.”23 By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: “Thy will be done.”
Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death: By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the “Mother of Mercy,” the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender “the hour of our death” wholly to her care. May she be there as she was at her son’s death on the cross. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing24 to lead us to her son, Jesus, in paradise.
1 Lk 1:37-38; cf. Gen 18:14.
2 Lk 1:45.
3 Cf. Lk 1:48.
4 Cf Mt 8:2; 14:30; 15:22; et al.
5 Cf. Lk 1:43; 2:11.
6 Jn 20:28,21:7.
7 Lk 1:43; Jn 2:1; 19:25; cf. Mt 13:55; et al.
8 Council of Ephesus (431): DS 251.
9 Cf. Acts 13:24; Mt 3:3.
10 Lk 1:76; cf. 7:26; Mt 11:13.
11 Jn 1 29; cf. Acts 1:22; Lk 1:41; 16:16; Jn 3:29.
12 Lk 1:17; cf. Mk 6:17-29.
13 Jn 1:6.
14 Lk 1:15, 41.
15 Cf. Lk 1:68.
16 Cf. Lk 1:48; Zeph 3:17b.
17 Zeph 3:14,17a.
18 Rev 21:3.
19 Lk 1:41, 48.
20 Lk 1:45.
21 Cf. Gen 12:3.
22 Lk 1:43.
23 Lk 1:38.
24 Cf. Jn 19:27.