The O Antiphons are said before the Magnificat at Vespers in the last seven days of Advent. An additional antiphon dedicated to the Blessed Virgin was added in some English Churches and by certain religious orders during medieval times. The original seven antiphons are moved back by one day so this antiphon could be prayed on December 23rd.
O Virgin of virgins,
how shall this be?
For neither before was any like thee,
nor shall there be after.
Daughters of Jerusalem,
why marvel ye at me?
That which ye behold is a divine mystery.
Mary drags us to her Son, Jesus. Yet we resist her.
She points to Him. She disappears into the background for Him. She gives up the ‘normal’ life she could have had, for Him. She suffers for Him. She follows Him and serves Him — not as the glorified maiden, but as a maidservant.
I am the handmaid of the Lord.
Her action, work, love, and dedication are theologized to such an extent that we miss her humanity. Her simple humanity submitted itself fully to the Lord. Trusting, not knowing. Hearing, not debating. Serving, not bemoaning honorifics.
Would that we take her at her word: Why marvel ye at me? Would that we follow her example all the more closely. Would that we allow ourselves to be carried away, subsumed fully by the mystery of the Incarnation. Would that we say with her,
Be it done unto me according to Thy word.