December 20, 2022



Today’s Gospel is entitled: “The Annunciation to the Virgin Mary.” As we all know, the Archangel Gabriel was sent by God to Nazareth, to a Virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, in order to make the greatest announcement of all: “You have been chosen as the Mother of Jesus, the Messiah”. From the dialogue between Gabriel and the Virgin, we discover the so-called “Three Names of the Virgin”: the first is “MARY”, given by her parents; the second is “FULL-OF-GRACE”, given by God; and the third is “HANDMAID OF THE LORD”, given by herself.

MARY was the name that Joaquim and Anne gave to their baby girl. They choose the name “Miriam”, which in Hebrew language means, “Princess”, because her mission in life was to become the “Queen of Heaven” – and as it is: all great Queens start as little Princess. This fact should encourage parents to give Christian names to their children – meaning, names taken from the Bible, or of virtues and of famous Saint. As the saying goes: “In nomen est nomen” – “In your name is your mission in life.”

FULL-OF-GRACE was the name that God-the-Father gave to the Mother of His Son. The Greek name reads as, “Kekaretomene”, which means, “Overflowing with God’s Grace”. This word can be found only once in the Holy Scriptures, and it is referred exclusively to the Virgin Mary. There were patriarchs, prophets, apostles and evangelists, but none of them was exempted from sin, excepted the Virgin Mary. She is the “Full-of-Grace” because she was never stained by the original Sin, nor she even committed throughout her life the smallest venial sin. It was becoming that the Mother of the Son of God should be conceived in the virginal womb of an Immaculate Mother.

HANDMAID OF THE LORD was the name that the Virgin Mary gave to herself. Aware that the honor of being chosen as the “Mother of the Son of God” was not only for herself, but for the salvation of humanity, she ended the conversation with a great act of humility and obedience, declaring: “I am the Handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to His Hord”. A faithful Handmaid does not impose her will on the Master, but obeys faithfully and lovingly his commands. Thus, Mary is teaching us to believe and to behave according to God’s Word, and not in the pursuit of our whims and caprices. “Fiat voluntas tua” – “Let your will be done”.



What is Mary teaching us about being a follower of God?


Fr. Paolo Pirlo