The angel is waiting for your answer: it is time for him to return to the One who sent him. And we too are waiting, O Lady, for this word of mercy, we-who are overwhelmed by misery under sentence of condemnation. The price of our salvation is being offered to you. If you consent, we shall be set free straight away. In -the eternal Word of God we have all been made, and look, we are dying. By one small word of yours in answer we shall be restored and brought back to life.
Answer, O Virgin, answer the angel quickly; or rather, through the angel answer God. Speak the word and receive the Word. Offer what is yours and conceive what is God’s. Breathe one fleeting word and embrace the eternal Word.
Why delay? Why be afraid? Believe, speak, receive! Let your humility be clothed with courage, and your reserve with trust. In such circumstances, O prudent Virgin, do not fear presumption, for although the reserve which makes you silent is attractive, how more important at this juncture is it for your goodness to speak.
O Blessed Virgin, open your heart to faith, your lips to speak, your womb to your Creator. Behold, the long-desired of the nations is standing at the door and knocking. Oh, what if he should pass by because of your delay and again in sorrow you should have to begin to seek for him whom your soul loves? Rise up, then, run and open! Arise by faith, run by the devotion of your heart, open by consent.
And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done unto me according to your word.’
– A Sermon by Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)