And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
May is Mary’s month. It is a month, like Mary, which is not so much necessary (as if God is under the iron rule of some grim law of economics or physics) as radically unnecessary, gratuitous, and lavish. People often ask why Mary is “necessary” to Catholic piety. But this is like asking whether flowers or galaxies or beautiful weather are “necessary.” It’s a fundamentally tone deaf way of hearing God. None of creation was “necessary” to God. It exists because God just thought it was a good idea and loved it into being. But having loved it into being, He chose also to redeem it after it was afflicted by sin, not in any old way, but in a very particular way, by taking our humanity up into His divine life. And to do this, He chose Mary — again not because He needed her, but because He loved her gratuitously. We, who have been loved with the same gratuitous, inexplicable, lavish love, have little reason to cavil at this. God has loves far more than reasons. But the fact that He does so does not mean that we can’t and shouldn’t be grateful for His gratuitous love. And it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be grateful to Mary too. She had a lot of guts — a lot more than we have — to freely say, “Let it be to me according to your word.” So honor her this month. If we can honor the soldiers who laid down everything for the love of country on Memorial Day at the end of the month, surely we can honor the young girl who laid down her will and her dear Son for the love of God and the whole world.