I bet you never thought of the Hail Mary prayer as anything but—a prayer. Oh but you are in for a surprise, as I was the day the Holy Spirit whispered new insight into the richest promise of this prayer for we who recite it.
As you know the first part of the Hail Mary comes from Luke Chapter 1. We all know the story of Angel Gabriel coming to greet Mary with those words—‘Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.’
Then a little later in the same Chapter of Luke 1, Elizabeth greets Mary with these words—‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.’ Thus began the beginning of the Ave’s the Hail Mary Prayer we are all so familiar with.
So, where is the promise in this for us? You may think—got this one—Mary is to conceive the greatest promise of all--a Child will be born, the Messiah who will bring us salvation. Good answer, but there is more.
We were at St. Elizabeth’s Church one day in Pflugerville, Texas: a small group of people who were about to recite the Rosary. All at once, I felt the strong Presence of ‘holiness’ or the Holy Spirit and heard the WORD—“Listen.” Not an audible word, but a word that was impressed into my heart, but I knew that word, ‘Listen,’ came from God.
“Okay,” I thought, and proceeded to say the Apostles Creed. Nothing new there. Then the Our Father and again, no new insight there. But, the moment the Words—“Hail Mary” came from my mouth—like that scroll rolling back from my human mind—I saw that those words spoken to Mary, were spoken to all of us—ALL of US! We are taught that Scripture speaks to us—and that day the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart that—“we are all favored, the Lord is with us and when we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, we are filled with this love of Jesus so much that we are fruitful with Jesus.” And, like Mary, we bring Jesus into the world on a moment by moment basis. What a promise!!
As I reflected more on this insight, I also saw that it is when we by grace, say yes to God, then blessed indeed we are, and blessed among the people. You see this message lines up with what Jesus spoke when He asked, “Who is My Mother, My brothers, My sisters? But, the ones who do the Will of God” (taken from Mark 3 v 33-35) We are all called, chosen and asked to be broken and given. Let our answer be the total Yes that Mary gave. “Be it done unto me, according to Your Word.”
From little on up, most cradle Catholics must have said a zillion of these Hail Mary’s as parents everywhere led us in the rosary before bedtime, or as we traveled on a journey. Along with the Our Father or Lord’s Prayer and the Glory Be to the Father---the Hail Mary was a prayer that by first grade---you had down pat as part of your Catholic upbringing. So much so, we probably all ended up not really listening to what our mouths were speaking as we prayed. Now, however—you have read how this Prayer is a CALL to you to follow in Mary’s footsteps, just as we are called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
“Hello favored ones! God is calling.”