What did mankind know about Christ before God sent the Angel Gabriel to a Virgin bethrothed to a man named Joseph, of the tribe of David?
Men knew that the Christ would come from the nation that came from Abraham, that He would be desired by all men, and that by Him all men would receive a blessing. They knew He would be a King of an eternal kingdom. They knew about a reign of peace and the forgiveness of sins. However, this was to see Christ from the outside. It was like a child at the store-front window looking in but unable to enter and purchase to his heart’s content.
But Mary entered the fullness of the Mystery of Christ at the very moment He entered the world. For just as the dawn is a perfect light, yet seen imperfectly by people in a forest, so Mary’s Knowledge of Christ was perfect, though barely seen by the rest of men. This is clearly revealed to us in the Annunciation. The Angel Gabriel salutes Mary “full of grace”, using words to say that She is singled out from all others. His address is full of solemnity, so that realizing the import of the moment, Mary wonders at the greeting, pondering something beyond the reach of mortal men.
Proceeding thus in the 3 stages described in Luke 1:28 ff, the Angel calls Mary by name to calm Her mind and direct it to the bearing of a child, who would be the son of David and King of an eternal Kingdom. He thus shows that God has chosen Mary to be the Mother of the Messias, the Hope of Abraham and the fulfillment of the promises made to David. Understanding now the meaning of “full of grace”, Mary asks “How shall this be done since I know not man?”
To answer, Gabriel makes the first formal announcement of the Mystery of the Holy Trinity: “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee, and the Holy that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Hearing this, Mary’s soul recognizes the graces of Her entire life, for the God who always guided Her has declared Himself to Her and there can be no doubt about what all this means. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word.” The Angel left Her, and God became Her son.
At this moment, Mary knows who Christ is: “You are Christ, my Son, the offspring of Abraham, the Son of David, the Son of Man. And yet You are the living and true Son of God come among men.” Though Mary cannot see Him, nor even feel Him in Her womb, She knows Him in the fullness of His Divinity and in the truth of His Humanity.
In a similar way, we move to the perfect knowledge of Christ in the Hail Mary. “Full of Grace” we see God’s plan. “Blessed art thou among women” we see the Immaculate Conception. “The fruit of thy womb Jesus” we see the offspring of Abraham, son of David, Messias, Redeemer. “Mother of God”, we see the Divinity. In saying “pray for us sinners” we mean “let it be done unto me according to thy will” and freely enter this holy mystery bringing the grace of the Redeemer into the world around us. Let us say this prayer, not merely as children echoing unknown words, but as those who have fully entered the Mystery of Christ. Ave Maria!