A couple of days ago I was having a religious debate on Twitter with a former Catholic-turned Protestant. We were primarily debating devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. During the course of our debate I mentioned that if Mary had not freely said yes to the Incarnation, then Jesus would never have been.
The Protestant pointed out that God is all-powerful, and can do whatever He wants. What she actually said was briefer than that, but the was the gist. God didn’t have to have Mary in order to save us. Her role was not essential. Is this accurate?
In a manner of speaking, it is correct. God is all-powerful, and He can do anything, with the exception of one thing. God can not contradict Himself. God is perfect. Contradicting Himself would be changing His mind, or admitting He made a mistake. These are things a perfect being can not do. So to say God could’ve saved us without Mary has some truth to it.
Where we run into problems here is with the assumption Mary did not play a vital role in our salvation. God chose to save us through the Incarnation. Could He have used any woman to conceive Jesus? Yes, but He didn’t use just any woman. God chose a specific woman to carry Jesus. He chose the Virgin Mary.
Each and every one of us is completely unique. There can never be another me, and there can not be another you. That being true, God has a different purpose for each person. Furthermore, He gives a choice as to whether or not we wish to fulfill that purpose. If I choose not to fulfill God’s plan for me, that is my choice. However, God does not move on and find someone else to do it. Since I am unique, I am uniquely created to fulfill my purpose in life. No one else can do exactly what I can, exactly the way I can do it. There is only one me. If I choose not to do God’s will, then my purpose will forever be unfulfilled. God simply works around it.
It is the same with Mary. Mary was uniquely created by God to carry Jesus. Unlike the rest of us, She did not have original sin. She was never subject to Satan. Mary never fell into actual sin of any kind, either. We see this when St. Gabriel the Archangel greets Mary by saying, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” (Lk. 2)
Mary didn’t just have grace. She was full of grace. It isn’t like it is with us. We may have grace, but we have a wounded nature to go with it. We are inclined to sin. Not so with Mary. She had no wounded nature, and She was not inclined to sin. Yet, She was still a member of a fallen race. Hence, Her need of a Savior.
So Mary was created specifically for the role of Mother of God. No one else was created by God with this role in mind. Yet, as with all other humans (including Her Son), Mary had free will. She could have refused the Angel’s request. God never forces His will on us.
If Mary had Said no, would Jesus have still been born? Would we have been saved? What would have happened if Mary had Said no?
From a technical standpoint, God could have used another woman, or He could have saved us in any other way He so desired. Yet, God had chosen to save us by having His Son come to Earth incarnated, and to die for us. He also chose Mary as the instrument through which this would be possible. This was His will. While I freely admit God may have saved us in another fashion had Mary said no, I also say that the Incarnation could not have happened without Mary.
As I said, Mary was created by God to be the instrument whereby God the Son would come to us. As with all of us, Mary was unique. She, like us, was uniquely created for Her role. No one else could have done it, because no one else was quite like Her.
If I had chosen not to marry my wife, or to have children, then they would never have existed. I am the only me there is. Why another man could have had children with my wife, those children would not have been the ones I helped create, because no one else is me.
If Joe Montana had chosen to never play football, then the San Francisco 49ers could have found another quarterback. Yet, another quarterback would not have been Joe Montana. No one else could do what he did, the exact way in which he did it. Steve Young proved that. He was good, but he was no Joe Montana. If Joe Montana had said no to football, his role would have went unfulfilled.
So it is with the Blessed Virgin Mary. If She had said no to St. Gabriel, Her role would have went unfulfilled. No one else could have carried Jesus, because no one else was Mary. They were not created for that purpose. Let us be eternally grateful for Mary’s “Fiat”. For without it, we most surely would have never had the Incarnation. Mary’s role in our salvation was, indeed, vital.
Peace in Christ,
David J. Pollard
American Catholic Solidarity