Whole World Awaits Mary's Reply
On the Annunciation and Mary's "fiat"
homily excerpt of St. Bernard is in the
Office of Readings for
December 20, the fourth week of Advent.
You have heard, O Virgin,
that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not
be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time
for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for
your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily
The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at
once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and
behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to
be recalled to life.
Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving
Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it.
All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they
dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole
earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on
your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive,
freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam,
the whole of your race.
Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through
the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God.
Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word,
embrace the eternal Word.
Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive.
Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for
virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent
Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is
pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to
faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator.
See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If
he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to
seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open.
Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to
Hom. 4, 8-9: Opera omnia,
Edit. Cisterc. 4 , 53-54
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