Thursday - Second Reading
With our slow and clouded minds, it is hard for us to appreciate that moment when Mary first knew God and gave herself to him. His will became her one desire and her joy. She saw how she owed everything to his creating; but she knew that according to his plan, her will was free, to choose or refuse his will and his way. She saw the blessings which God had already bestowed, and for these alone she chose to love him in return, and to love him for ever.
Soon she was to understand how much more he would do, She learnt that he who created all would not rest content, but would himself come to his creation as redeemer of his creatures. And this out of love alone. She learnt that man's will, free to choose good or evil, could make satisfaction to God for sin, or incur his anger by sin. In that moment of understanding, she chose once for all her course through life.
The captain of a ship knows what dangers lie ahead, and he charts his voyage to avoid the storms. He watches the ship's course, and works out the distance sailed, and the distance still to sail before arriving in port. Every rope, every piece of equipment is in place and ready for use. The cargo he carries must reach port as quickly as possible. Every detail of the voyage must be worked out ahead. Mary was like the captain of a ship.
As soon as she had understood God's will, she set her course according to his commandments. She was watchful at all times that her attention should never be distracted from God. She took care, when those around her spoke of their ambitions, their successes or failures, not to let herself become less devout in her service of God. Anything contrary to God's law she knew at once as a danger to be avoided at all cost.
With this self-training and discipline, all that she did was good. All that she said, all that she listened to, all that she gave her attention to, was sensible and wise.
Her work was useful to herself and to others, and each journey she made had some good reason. The trials of life she accepted with patience and joy. Her one thought was God. Her one desire was to be for ever with him, to offer to him in return for all he had done for her all her love and her praise. So perfect a life won her from God, who is the giver of all good things, the highest holiness and glory. It is no wonder that God lover her more than all other creatures.
She alone of all men and women was ever sinless and immune from sin. How near she was to heaven at that moment when the Angel Gabriel greeted her - Hail, full of grace! How pure, how holy she was, at that moment when the Father entrusted to her his only Son, at her assenting - Be it done unto me, according to thy word! At that moment of time, Divinity was united with humanity, humanity with Divinity; the Son of God was made man; the Son of the Father become the Son of Mary.
Thursday - Third Reading
This union between God and man, between Christ and the Virgin Mary, only God can comprehend. The Son of God, truly God, all present and present to all, whose eternal dwelling in heaven is the Blessed Trinity itself, made for himself on earth a dwelling-place in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The Holy Spirit, who is ever in the Father and in the Son, rested in Mary, filling her, both body and soul, with his presence. The Son, who is ever with the Father and the Holy Spirit in heaven, acquired for himself as man a new dwelling on earth. The Father too, with the Holy Spirit, dwelt in a new way on earth, in the humanity of the Son, for the Father with the Holy Spirit must be ever in the Son. The Son alone took flesh.
He alone took our humanity. True God, he came as man to men, withholding from the eyes of men his Divinity seen ever by the Angels in heaven. All who hold the true faith must rejoice unceasingly at this union achieved through Mary. The Son of God took in her womb true flesh and blood, and true humanity, not losing his Divinity: in divinity was humanity, in humanity Divinity. Christ did not lose his Divinity, nor Mary her virginity.
It would be utterly wrong to think that God could not have done such a thing, for all things are possible to God. It would be equally wrong to think that he would not have done such a thing for his own, for this would deny the goodness of God. If we believe then that God could and would do such a thing, why do not all men love God with all their love?
Picture some king, honoured by all, with great power and possessions, and someone dear to him suffering great insult and injury; if the king took on himself the burden of his friend, if he gave all his wealth to save him from poverty, still more, if he offered his life for his friend, would not this be the greatest love he could show? But no love of men on earth could equal the love of God in heaven. No love could equal that love which led God to condescend to our need, and entrust himself to the womb of the Virgin Mary and take there our humanity.
Mary is like that bush which Moses saw, burning yet never consumed by the fire. God himself was there, till Moses knew and obeyed his word. And to him he made known his name - I am who am, the name of the eternal. The Son of God dwelt in Mary, till the span of time between conception and birth was completed. At conception, he had taken, by his Divinity, full possession of Mary's pure body. At birth he came forth, with his Divinity united for ever to true humanity. But as the sweet perfume of the rose leaves the rose still as lovely, his coming forth was no lessening, but truly a glorification of the virginity of Mary.
To God, to the Angels, to Adam, to the Patriarchs and the Prophets, and to countless servants of God, this Burning Bush, which was Mary, brought joy beyond words - Mary, in the fire of her love, conceiving the Son of God - the Son of God in obedience to the Father, resting in her, to be born, true man, true God, of a Mother and Virgin, a Virgin-Mother. To ourselves also, and to all our race, this must bring great rejoicing and consolation. The Son of God, he who with the Father and the Spirit is the eternal God, has taken our humanity, through the love of the Virgin Mary.
Her love embraces all things that belong to God. We then may claim, and be sure of her intercession. We can say truly than man who deserved eternal death through sin can acquire eternal life only through her. From Mary, the Son of God came in perfect humanity, to fight as man with Satan who had subjugated man. To Mary, men must resort for strength against Satan's temptings. Mary is the gateway by which Christ entered into this world, to open to man the gate of heaven. Pray then, pray then to Mary, that at death she may come to us, to secure for us entry into the eternal kingdom of Christ, her Son.