To a girl named Mary, an angel came – Monday 4th week in Advent – Luke 1:26-38
For four hundred years, the voice of the prophets had been silent in Israel. Fifteen hundred years of communication from God to man through the scriptures seemed to have ended with the book of Malachi, the final book of the Old Testament. Now, that silence is shattered for ever, in an obscure village in Galilee. Mary, the young girl of no status, from the village of Nazareth, an utterly insignificant place is singled out, called, chosen, and overshadowed with God’s Spirit. Her response moves from one of fear to total trust in God’s inscrutable designs.
The text of today has several meditations
The angel said, “Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.” This assurance of the present-ness of God sets the tone for the message that is to come. Mary is identified here as the “favoured one” (Luke 1:28) and as one who has “found favour with God” (Luke 1:30). Later, in the verses that follow this text, she will be described as “blessed” among women (Luke 1:42). It is no small thing to be regarded, to be favoured, especially when you are exceedingly aware that you should not be.
But understand this that she is favoured not God’s favourite! She is not blessed or favoured because she is going to be the physical mother of Jesus, but because she believed God’s word. So, whatever blessings are given to Mary is one we all can share, if we emulate her. We cannot all be physical parents of Jesus, but we can believe God’s word will be fulfilled. Our Lady’s role in the history of salvation is unique. The same is true for each one of us in a smaller scale. The Lord is with each of us and we have found favour with God and he has a mission for us to fulfil.
It is doubtful that Mary really understood the implications of what she had been told. But she recognised the messenger as coming from God and, in deep faith and trust, accepted what she was being asked to do and be. Mary’s life circumstances would reasonably cause her to question—Am I favoured? Is God with me? What will this favour entail? The angel said to Mary, ‘You will conceive and bear a son,’ not ‘Are you willing to conceive and bear a son?’ She did not say “ok, I will do it”, but “let it be with me according to your word.” It was ‘yes’ to a way of life, a ‘yes’ to the Word of God, leaving the initiative with God. Her words to the angel, are a direct parallel to what Jesus later prays in the garden, “not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
That is how God’s will comes to us; in the things that happen to us; more than in the things we choose! In our lives too, there are turning points where we may experience an invitation to embrace something difficult rather than discard it. Something which may wreck our dream for ourselves or for our loved ones. There’s a need to discern what God wants from me.
Looking at the Bible, we see another image. The evangelist Luke does not exalt Mary as a goddess, or as a mother, or even as a woman. He thinks she has a more important role, as the ideal Christian. In the Third Gospel, Mary becomes the model for Christian discipleship, the person who all people, men and women alike should emulate, especially if they wish to follow her son.