The Church Fathers were fond of exploring the relationship between Eve, mother of all the living, and the new Eve, Mary the Mother of God. Where Eve grasped and lost, Mary surrendered and received; where Eve said no to the alluring mystery, Mary said yes.
The angel of the Lord—an agent from a realm beyond what can be seen and known—appears to the maid of Nazareth and greets her in what Balthasar describes as the language of heaven: “Hail, full of grace.” The sinful earth is a place of grasping, but the angel salutes her as someone who is ready to accept gifts.
Then he lays out for her the divine plan in which she is to play a signal role: “And now you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32). Standing still within the confines of what she can know, Mary responds, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” What the angel has told her does not conform to her expectations, and she is, understandably enough, puzzled.
Then the messenger says: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35). In other words: someone much more powerful than you will overwhelm your physical, moral, intellectual, and spiritual capacities, and in the measure that you cooperate with this intervention, you will come to a life you hadn’t imagined.
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