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EXEGESIS -- ANNUNCIATION AND INCARNATION(CONT.)

"Zachary did not believe. How did he not believe? He asked of the Angel whereby he might know what he was promising him, since he was himself an old man and his wife advanced in years. And the Angel said to him, Behold, thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be able to speak until the day wherein these things shall come to pass, because thou hast not believed my words, which shall be fulfilled in their time.* The same Angel comes to announce to Mary that Christ would be born of her in flesh. And her words are very like, for she too asks the cause, saying to the Angel, How shall this be done, because I know not man? While Zachary said: Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.... To the latter is said, Thou shalt be dumb, because thou believest not: whilst to the former the cause is explained, and no silence imposed. On her saying, How shall this be done, because I know not man? the Angel answers, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. Behold how shall be done what thou askest, behold how, though thou knowest not man, thou shalt bring forth. Behold how: because the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. Have no fear of the heat of concupiscence under the shadow of so great sanctity. Why is this? If we attend but to the words, either both believed, or both doubted. But whilst we can hear words, God can search into hearts also.

"We should understand, well-beloved, that Zachary, in saying, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife advanced in years, spoke as one who given up all hope, and not with a view to inquire; whereas Mary, on the contrary, in saying, How shall this be done, because I know not man? spoke to make inquiry, and not giving up hope. Whilst she asked the question, she doubted not the promise.

"O truly full of grace! For thus she was saluted by the Angel, Ave, gratia plena. Who can explain this grace? Who is sufficient to render thanks for this grace? Man is made, and by his free will man is lost; and made man is He found who made, lest he should be lost whom He made. The Word, in the beginning with God, by whom all things were made, is made flesh: Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis. The Word is made flesh; but flesh comes to the Word, the Word is not lost in flesh. O grace! That we should have this, how were we worthy?

"But see what holy Mary says herself, full of faith, full of grace, about to become Mother, ever to remain Virgin. What does she say amongst other things, of which to speak in particular would be over-much? What does she say? He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He hath sent empty away."**

"Give answer now, O Sacred Virgin: why triflest thou with the life of the world? The Angel waits for thy assent; this is why the messenger tarries. Already thou hast heard how this shall be done since the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High overshadow thee, that thou mayest bear offspring, and not lose virginity. Heaven's gate, shut of old by Adam, has already given sound; by it the Internuncio has gone forth. God is at the gate, He is waiting for the Angel whom thou art delaying. O Blessed Mary, the whole captive world implores thy assent: the world has made thee hostage to the Lord for its faith, through thee it supplicates that the iniquities of its parents be cleansed away.


* Luke i. 20.

** Serm. 290, In Nat. Joan. Bapt. v. 4-6. See also Serm. 291, 5, 6; 293, 1.

 

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