The Mother Of Christ by Father Vassall-Phillips Part 85.

This first Word, then, of the Holy Mother of God is the expression of her virginal delicacy of conscience and strenuous determination to preserve the virginity which she had consecrated to Heaven. For all time it sets a lesson to those who are called upon, in some sudden emergency, to speak under difficult circumstances. In our Lady's question to the Angel we see a wise anxiety to avoid undue precipitancy, and to be sure of her ground, combined with an unshaken trust in the power and promises of God. The Blessed Virgin was sure that all would be done even as the divine messenger had announced; she asked only how it could be accomplished consistently with the virginity that she felt bound to safeguard. As soon as her question was answered, the second Word fell from Mary's lips :

2. Behold the Handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to Thy Word.

When our Lady said aloud: Behold the Handmaid of the Lord, she showed the perfect dispositions of her soul. For this is the perfect attitude of the creature—in all things to be the servant of the Creator. With our Lady it was no mere profession, no mere manner of speech. Her one desire was to serve her Lord with absolute devotion.

"Sicut oculi ancillae in manibus dominae suae ita oculi Mariae ad Dominum Deum nostrum donec misereatur nostri." (As the eyes of a handmaiden are on the hands of her mistress, so are the eyes of Mary upon the Lord our God, until He turn and have mercy upon us. Cf. Ps. cxxii. 3.)

The longing of our Lady's heart was to be as a humble handmaiden—that her Sovereign Master's pleasure should be done in all things—as by God's Angels in His Heaven, so by the Angels' Queen on earth. To this she gave expression : " Behold the Handmaid of the Lord ; be it done unto me according to Thy Word."

"See here Mary's humility; see her devotion," writes St. Ambrose. " She calls herself the Handmaid of the Lord—she who is chosen to be His Mother, and is not elated by the unexpected promise. Moreover, in calling herself handmaid, she claims not for herself the privilege of so great a grace, but the privilege of doing only what she is bidden. For since she is to give birth to Him who is meek and humble, she herself also was bound to choose humility. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to Thy Word. This betokens service, and in it you may see the fixed purpose of the will. Behold the handmaid of the Lord. This implies preparation for duty. Be it done unto me according to Thy Word. This shows the resolute purpose formed in the will." (St. Ambrose, In Lucam in loco.)