is easy to be fooled by the readings for today’s feast. It is easy
to assume they are all about the woman, but they are not, at least not primarily.
They are, as biblical readings always are, primarily about God and the marvelous
deeds God is doing in our world. The responsorial psalm proclaims that
and invites us to “sing to the Lord a new song, for the Lord has done marvelous
deeds.” The Lord God has, indeed, done marvelous deeds for the woman,
and the same God continues to do marvelous deeds for us.
“The serpent tricked me, so I ate” was the woman-Eve’s excuse for knowing
evil. “My brother made me do it” was most often mine’s, sometimes alternated,
à la Flip Wilson, with the more expansive “the devil made me do it.”
Always the effort to shift responsibility for evildoing to someone other
than myself. Not so with the woman-Mary. She does not claim the
devil made her do it, or that someone tricked her and so she did evil.
No. She questions the angel, “How can this be since I have no
relations with a man?” The answer is the standard biblical one, God
has done marvelous deeds yet again, and explanation given Mary’s response
is acquiescence in God’s deed. “Oh, I see, God’s at work here.
Then be it done to me according to your word.” Would that I could see
and acquiesce to God’s deeds with such graciousness.
Today’s feast, however, is not about God’s great deed in Mary’s pregnancy;
it is about God’s even greater deed in Mary’s salvation. Mary, daughter
of ‘ad’am, humankind, ought to suffer the frailties that afflict all
humankind. She ought to suffer the consequences of sin that all humans
suffer. Today we celebrate that Mary never suffered those consequences,
that she never suffered them because of God’s marvelous deed that saved her
from them from her first moment in her mother’s womb, and that God, steadfast
and unchanging, yesterday, today, and the same forever, saves us today as
God saved Mary all those years ago. The song we are called to sing
today about God’s marvelous deeds of salvation, therefore, is the very same
song Mary sang. It is a new song, however, not because the song is
new but because we the singers are new. It is vital to the salvation
of ‘ad’am, all humankind, that we who confess God sing that song to
the marvelous deeds of God and remember that this song is to be sung primarily
in deeds and not in words. For “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord,
Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven but he [and she] who does the will
of my Father.” (Matt, 7:21) I invite us all to join today in singing
and in doing that song in unison.