Luke 1:26-38 (ESV)
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “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, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Yesterday, we looked at Zechariah’s doubt at what Gabriel said to him, today, we see Mary’s response. She is puzzled and asks how, but not how will I know? It is a subtle difference, but I think if Zechariah had stopped for a second and thought about it, he would probably have accepted the angel’s words. At least I like to think so.
How many of us, if God sent an angel to visit us would say, as Mary did, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”? Many times, I have fantasized about God calling me to do something great like this, and there being no doubt about Who called me. But, alas, it has not happened this way for me. I have had to struggle through life doing my best to be a servant, and to honor God.
My spiritual advisor back when I was in high school, Father Mike, once told me something like: “Maybe God is giving you several options, and asking you to choose.” I had been thinking of becoming a priest, and so I met with Fr. Mike frequently to discuss things, and to investigate my vocation. I just had a difficult time making up my mind.
Mary was given a choice, although not really. She could have said no, but God already knew her heart, and that she would accept the honor of being the mother of God Incarnate. Jesus probably could have just come to earth as an adult, but He chose to join us as a baby, and to experience humanity to the fullest.
When I see a woman with a baby at this time of year, I automatically think of Mary and Jesus, and express my gratitude to God for what He did for us, for me.
by Virgil Stripes
picture: altar believed to be at the very spot in the very room where Mary would have been visited by Gabriel for the announcement.