In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38)
The story of the Annunciation perfectly describes the growth of a personal relationship with God.
God initiates the conversation. He speaks to us, and—as with Mary—often in unexpected ways. Sometimes we find ourselves moved by catching a glimpse of a spectacular sunset or by holding one’s newborn child, or by listening to a favorite hymn. In these things, and in our emotional responses in particular, we experience God’s presence. To experience “something we know not what.” Something outside of ourselves.
When God speaks to us, we are free to choose, if we say yes to God, we are able to bring new life into the world.
And so, it was in Mary’s visit by Gabriel that we experience one of the most outstanding qualities to be admired and imitated from her life. . . her willingness to say “yes” and “to be faithful.” She remained faithful even when there were dark clouds of unwarranted humiliation looming over her; even when unforeseen difficulties encountered Her during the birth of Jesus; even when life surrounded her with agonizing moments and heartbreaking instances.
In Mary saying “yes,” God has given us the capacity to say “yes.” Yes, we believe we have new life in Christ. Yes, of his kingdom there will be no end. Yes, we will follow where he leads us into the risky places of ministering among the least and the lost and the last. Yes, even those who have died – whom we miss at Christmas – they live with Christ forever and ever.
God gives us grace and he expects us to respond with the same willingness, obedience, and heart-felt trust as Mary did. When God commands, he also gives the grace, strength, and means to respond.
So it is in the power of Mary’s “Let it be”, that we are reminded that we ourselves have trusted that nothing is impossible with God. This is the facet of the story that is most familiar to us: Who hasn’t questioned the will of God in their lives? Who hasn’t said to God, “How can this be?” Who hasn’t said, “Why me?
Yet Mary believed God’s promises even when they seemed impossible. She was full of grace because she trusted that what God said was true and would be fulfilled. She was willing and eager to do God’s will, even if it seemed difficult or costly.
It is our own “yes” to God’s voice in our lives we are also asked to nurture the word of God within us and bring Christ into the world—certainly not in the same way that Mary was, but in our own situations. Using our own talents and graces we are called to bring Christ into the lives of others.
Prayer of The Day
Heavenly Father, you offer us abundant grace, mercy, and forgiveness through your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Help me to live a grace-filled life as Mary did by believing in your promises and by giving you my unqualified “yes” to your will and to your plan for my life.
Mary is the first Christian because she hears the word of the Lord and accepts it as a word about herself. “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”, Mary is the first Christian preacher. Her song which follows Gabriel’s news: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!” is the first human proclamation of the gospel in Luke. Mary not only receives; she declares what God has done in Jesus Christ for the whole of creation. She embodies the good news she proclaims, for God has created gospel in her, and thereby God has created good news in us.