Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning and happy feast!
Today we contemplate the beauty of Mary Immaculate. The Gospel, which narrates the Annunciation, helps us to understand what we are celebrating, especially through the greeting of the Angel. He addresses Mary with a word that is not easy to translate, which means “filled with grace,” “created by grace,” “full of grace” (Luke 1:28). Before calling her Mary, he calls her full of grace, and he thus reveals the new name that God has given her, which fits her more than the name given to her by her parents. We also call her thus, with every Hail Mary.
What does full of grace mean? That Mary is full of God’s presence. And if she is entirely inhabited by God, there is no place in her for sin. It’s something extraordinary, because everyone, unfortunately, is contaminated by evil. Looking inside, each one of us sees dark sides. The greatest saints were also sinners and all realities, even the most beautiful, are affected by evil – all, except Mary. She is the only “ever green oasis” of humanity, the only uncontaminated one, created immaculate to receive fully with her “yes,” God who was coming to the world to thus begin a new history.
Every time we acknowledge her full of grace, we give her the greatest compliment, the same that God does. A nice compliment to give a lady is to say to her, gracefully, that she looks young. When we say to Mary full of grace, in a certain sense we also say this to her, at the highest level. In fact, we acknowledge her always young, because she never grew old by sin. There is only one thing that makes one truly grow old, to grow old interiorly: not age, but sin. Sin makes one old, because it makes the heart inflexible. It closes it, renders it inert, it makes it wither. However, she who is full of grace is empty of sin. Hence she is always young, she is “younger than sin,” “she is the youngest of the human race” (G. Bernanos, Diary of a Country Priest, II, 1988, p. 175).
The Church congratulates Mary today, calling her all beautiful, tota pulchra. As her youth is not in her age, so her beauty does not consist in the external. Mary, as today’s Gospel shows, does not excel in appearance: of a simple family, she lived humbly at Nazareth, an almost unknown hamlet. And she wasn’t famous: even when the Angel visited her, no one knew it, that day there was no reporter there. Our Lady did not even have an agitated life, but preoccupations and fears: she was “greatly troubled” (v. 29), says the Gospel, and when the Angel “departed from her” (v. 38), the problems increased.
However, she who was full of grace lived a beautiful life. What was her secret? We can gather it looking again at the scene of the Annunciation. In many paintings Mary is depicted seated before the Angel with a small book. This book is the Scripture. Thus Mary was usually listening to God and dwelling on Him. Her secret was the Word of God: close to her heart, who then took flesh in her womb. By remaining with God, conversing with Him in every circumstance, Mary made her life beautiful. Not appearance, not what passes, but a heart pointed to God is what makes life beautiful. Today we look joyfully at her who was full of grace. Let us ask her to help us to remain young, saying “no” to sin, and to live a beautiful life, saying “yes” to God.