We Priests of the Sacred Heart have become very accustomed to these words of the Spiritual Directory: “In the words, ‘Ecce venio, Deus, ut faciam voluntatem tuam’ [Heb 10:7], and in these words, ‘Ecce ancilla Domini, fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum’ [Lk 1:38], are found our whole vocation, our purpose, our duty, our promises.” Perhaps we have forgotten the title that sums up the content of the paragraph, “The Gift of Self.” The feast we celebrate today has above all to do with two words: Freedom and gift. Fr. Dehon reads the story of the Incarnation, in fact all of salvation history, as a story in which the relationships between God and human beings and then also between human beings are marked by the words gift and abandonment – and these can only be offered, welcomed, lived in freedom. Dehon often emphasizes: God gives himself; God gives his Son, etc… A giving of himself, an offering that takes place out of freedom and an excess of love – and is addressed to humans. But a gift would not be a gift, no matter how lovingly it is, if it forced a response. Only in freedom can a gift create relationships and give form to life. And Mary accepts the gift, not immediately, not overwhelmed, but in great freedom. And in this freedom she lets her life be shaped by the gift she receives “fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum”. It is the peculiarity of Christian revelation that gift, freedom, and abandonment are so closely intertwined. Because the life that God wants to give, his life, is above all one thing: abandonment. And our response? Mary teaches us: not too quickly, not hastily. But in freedom, with conviction and passion. Because accepting God’s gift means giving myself to my loving Creator and to his suffering creatures – with freedom and passion.