To ask ‘what if Mary had said “no”’ is a little like asking, ‘if I had a brother, would he like spinach?’ or ‘what if God had not chosen the Israelites?’ Sometimes it helps to deal with reality as it presents itself. But, we are all a bit like Doubting Thomas. The question ‘could she say “no”’ is perhaps really the question ‘does her “yes” violate free will?’
Looking at the New American Bible translation it seems to me that the verses are consonant with free will. Mary “found favor with God”; found: it was something about her that she had done. Catholic lore proposes that she was willing to live a life consecrated to God. She was immaculately conceived but she wouldn’t have known this per se, I don’t think. Mary “was greatly troubled” at the greeting, which also reflects her consideration of the ‘proposal’. Later she states “Behold, I am the handmaid”, thus giving her assent. Other translations of a key verse are more helpful than the NAB in affirming “for I know not man”: in this line she may be referring to her previous choice to live a life of consecration: again, she is seen to actively evaluate the message, and indeed to make a choice that represents a different direction. And the conception of Our Lord also does not violate Mary’s free will choice to live a life consecrated to God, as her marriage to Joseph is chaste.
[quote=Redeemed]I think Mary is Blessed because she wanted God’s will to be done no matter the cost for her. She was created for this special purpose.
From the perspective of God this is surely true, but Mary herself would not have known that she was created for this special purpose prior to this moment. She probably felt early in her life a call to serve God. That we may reject a reason for our creation is evident in the fact that we each have a vocation, which we may reject.
[quote=Redeemed]My daughter said that if Mary had declined, then God would have chosen someone else.
We don’t know what God would have done should Mary have opted to refuse the Holy Ghost. At a rough guess, given that God promised a redeemer, he would have found a new way to introduce the redeemer. The book of Genesis shows God adapting to his creation, to balance punishment and redemption. But the important thing is to embrace revelation and to consider all questions in the light of faith and revelation. In faith we know that we have free will, and we know that Mary’s “yes” fulfilled God’s wish and corrected Eve’s mistake.
[quote=Hesychios]… in all of Western Theology.
What is “Western Theology”?