The World's First Love by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Part 6.

Now we come to the greatest act of freedom the world has ever known - the reversal of that free act which the Head of humanity performed in paradise when he chose non-God against God. It was the moment in which that unfortunate choice was reversed, when God in His Mercy willed to remake man and to give him a fresh start in a new birth of freedom under GOD. God could have made a perfect man to start humanity out of dust as He had done in the beginning. He could have made the new man start the new humanity from nothing, as He had done in making the world. And He could have done it without consulting humanity, but this would have been the invasion of human privilege. God would not take a man out of the world of freedom without the free act of a free being. God's way with man is not dictatorship, but cooperation. If He would redeem humanity, it would be with human consent, and not against it. God could destroy evil but only at the cost of human freedom, and that would be too high a price to pay for the destruction of dictatorship on earth to have a dictator in Heaven. Before remaking humanity, God willed to consult with humanity, so that there would be no destruction of human dignity; the particular person whom He consulted was a Woman. In the beginning, it was man who was asked to ratify the gift; this time it is a Woman. The mystery of the Incarnation is very simply that of God's asking a woman to freely give Him a human nature. In so many words, through the Angel, He was saying: "Will you make Me a man?" As from the first Adam came the first Eve, so now, in the rebirth of man's dignity, the new Adam will come from the new Eve. And in Mary's free consent we have the only human nature which was ever born in perfect liberty.

The story of this rebirth of freedom is told in the Gospel of St. Luke (1:26-35):

When the sixth month came, God sent the angel Gabriel to a city of Galilee called Nazareth, where a virgin dwelt betrothed to a man of David's lineage; His name was Joseph, and the virgin's name was Mary.

Into her presence the angel came, and said,

"Hail, thou who art full of grace; the Lord is with thee;

Blessed art thou among women."

She was much perplexed at hearing him speak so,

And cast about in her mind, what she was to make of such a greeting.

Then the angel said to her, "Mary, do not be afraid; Thou hast found favour in the sight of God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bear a son and shalt call him Jesus.

"He shall be great, and men will know him for the Son of the most High; The Lord will give him the throne of his father, David,

"And He shall reign over the house of Jacob eternally; His Kingdom shall never have an end."

But Mary said to the angel, "How can that be, since I have no knowledge of man?"

And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon thee and the Power of the most High will overshadow thee. Thus the holy thing which is to be born of thee shall be known for the Son of God."

The angel Gabriel, as God's spokesman, here asks her if she will freely give the Son of God a human nature, that He may also be the Son of man. A creature was asked by the

Creator if she would freely cooperate with God's plan to take humanity out of the mire, and to let him be ravished totally by God. Mary at first is troubled as to how she can give God a manhood, since she is still a Virgin. The angel settles the problem by telling her that God Himself, through His Spirit, will work that miracle within her.

But from our point of view there seems to be another difficulty. Mary was chosen by God to be His Mother, and was even prepared for that honor by being preserved free from the primal sin that had infected all humanity. If she were so prepared, would she be free to accept or to reject, and would her answer be the full fruit of her free will? The answer is that her redemption was already completed, but that she had not yet accepted nor ratified it. It was, in a way,  something like our dilemma. We are baptized as infants and our bodies become temples of God, as our souls have been filled with infused virtues. We become not just creatures made by God, but partakers in Divine nature. All this is done in Baptism before our freedom blossoms, the Church standing responsible for our spiritual birth, as our parents did for our physical birth. Later on, however, we ratify that original endowment by the free acts of our moral lives by receiving the sacraments, by prayers, and by sacrifices. So, too, Mary's redemption was completed as our Baptism was completed but she had not yet accepted, ratified, or confirmed it before she gave her consent to the angel. She was planned for a role in the drama of redemption by God, as a child is planned for a musical career by his physical parents, but it was not fulfilled until this moment. The Holy Trinity never possesses a creature without the consent of His will. When, therefore, Mary had heard how this was to take place, she uttered words which are the greatest pledge of liberty and the greatest charter of freedom the world has ever heard: "Be it done unto me according to thy word." As in Eden there took place the first espousals of man and woman, so, in her, there took place the first espousals of God and man, eternity and time, omnipotence and bonds. In answer to the question: "Will you give me a man?" the marriage ceremony of love becomes bathed with new depths of freedom: "I will" - And the Word was conceived in her.