There is a song, a lovely Latin rendition of the prayer (Ave Maria) that begins with the greeting of the angel to Mary in Luke’s gospel this morning (1:26-38). It means a lot to me because I was receiving a blessing once during a workshop at the precise moment that the words: gratia plena, Dominus tecum and benedicta tu were floating through the room. Those words: full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed among women – have been familiar in any description of Mary, the mother of Jesus, for my whole life. On that day, however, with the presenter’s loving hands on my head and the etheric music playing, I had a sense of God saying them to me and I didn’t even flinch!
This morning, reading that gospel, I was reminded of that moment, most likely because of the line that follows the angel’s greeting. It says that she was greatly troubled at what was said. Interestingly, it wasn’t the apparition that disconcerted her but the fact that the angel called her “full of grace” and “blessed among women.” There is something in women that has taught us to dismiss compliments, perhaps especially those that speak of spiritual qualities, and certainly none of us would even consider comparing ourselves to Mary! But I love that line, the fact that she was troubled, because hearing that makes her more human – more like us – and gives us the opportunity to think of ourselves as similarly blessed by God for whatever our state in life calls us to fulfill.
What if we were to think of those lines from God’s point of view instead of ours, as I did at that moment of blessing? I already knew that God is always with me and has blessed me in so many ways; those words were just reminders. In addition, however, what it meant to me was that the fullness of God’s grace – the total “amount” that would fill me up – was available to me and actually is available at every moment of my life. I just have to accept it. Full of grace! Wouldn’t God be happy if I accepted that designation! And wouldn’t my actions, my living, be different: more gentle, more peaceful, more loving of others in the manner of God…Might we all just bask in that possibility for awhile? Blessed are we among all others similarly blessed!