“Hail, full of grace” is the first thing we hear addressed to Mary in Luke 1:28, said by the angel Gabriel. If you’ve ever had to defend the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, you’ve probably used that verse. Then the Protestant will point to the fact that Stephen was also full of grace (Acts 6:8) and therefore believe he’s crushed the argument. Sadly for him, he hasn’t. We must consider a few things here.
1) Angels have a superior nature to ours. Usually, in Scripture, when an angel appears to a human, the human falls on his face and does weird stuff to acknowledge his lowliness in comparison. So for an angel to praise a human, not the other way around, is a novelty.
2) Angels are also smarter than we are. If an angel calls someone full of grace, he really has a grasp on what he’s saying.
3) Mary was called “full of grace” BEFORE the Resurrection. The fulness of grace was not as readily available when the gates of Heaven were still shut. Stephen was called “full of grace” AFTER the Resurrection, when Heaven was opened and grace given lavishly through baptism and Our Lord’s own good will. Stephen, most would assume, was baptized after the Resurrection and as such could receive a fulness of grace. Mary wasn’t baptized, as far as we know, and even before the Resurrection was “full of grace”.
Then there’s all the parallels between Mary and the Ark of the Covenant, but that’s the topic for another post. The main topic of this post actually is not Mary’s sinlessness, interesting though that may be. The main topic is actually going to be about her mediation between man and God.
And again, the shouts go up about how we’re being anti-Scriptural and putting Mary on too high a pedestal since 1 Tim 2:5 says that Christ Jesus is the one mediator between God and man. There’s a special reason Christ is the one mediator, though, which does not prohibit subordinate mediation on the part of creatures. The specialness and supremacy of Christ’s mediatorship over other kinds stems from the fact that He is God (see John 1:1) become man (John 1:14) and, as such, forms a bridge between the Creator and the creature. But let me ask this: have you ever requested prayers from anyone? For example, “My grandma’s in bad health”, “I’m really stressed”, or even something as grand as “I want my friend to have salvation”?
If you have, you’re doing nothing different than what Catholics do by asking Mary and the other saints to pray for stuff. Now you might say, “Oh but they’re dead! At least in the examples you gave, these people are alive!” Recall, my friend, the words of Our Lord in Mark 12:27: “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” To simply extinguish the dead like a match is a sad thing. The souls in Heaven live with God and their wills are far more attuned to His will than ours tend to be, so that just makes their prayers all the more pleasing to Him!
In the second chapter of John’s Gospel, Mary says to Jesus “they have no wine”. He then replies, “Woman, what is it to Me and to you?” The Protestant might say that, in light of that response, He was being snappish and then performed the miracle begrudgingly. But no, that can’t be. Because what does He say next? “My hour has not yet come”. Everyone will agree that the “hour” to which the Lord refers is the hour wherein He is revealed as the Son of God by His public ministry.
By saying “What is it to you?” He is in no way saying “What do you care? I have friends to talk to, bother me with chores later”. Because He says also, “What is it to Me?”. It’s obvious what it would be to Him*** (see footnote). To Him, it would be the unveiling of His true identity as the Second Person of the Trinity, the eternal Son of the eternal Father, sent to die for the sins of the world. And by saying “and to you” He’s implying that Mary is not just an ordinary woman just as He is not an ordinary man. If He complied with her request, it would mean, for her, the beginning of her intercession to Him.
It was shown then, and is shown in Heaven where He and she live now: Our Lord never disregards the plea of His mother.
And may He bless you, and she pray for you!
***The hour is also thought to be the hour when Our Lord is to suffer. So if, to Him, it would mean the beginning of the process wherein He would suffer His Passion, it would mean for Mary a share in said suffering. Observe Luke 2:34-35: “And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel and for a sign which shall be contradicted. 35 And your own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed.”