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DEC. 20. ADVENT. WK. 4. SUN. (B) LK. 1. 26-38.

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.


I pause in wonder at this moment in history where we are given an insight into God’s Wisdom, Love and Mercy towards his sinful people, because, at the moment described in this scripture reading, the divine plan of redemption is about to begin!


An angel appears to a teenage virgin, probably while she was at prayer, and asks her agreement to bearing a child, not of man, but of God; - the creator of the universe. We can safely assume Mary was a devout person with a deep and profound Faith who, through prayer, was in a humble and intimate relationship with God, but she certainly was not prepared for this moment?


She clearly did not understand this sacred moment, as is evident from her words: “But how can this come about, since I am a virgin”, but her Faith enabled her to accept and trust in the angels reply: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God”.


We can only imagine the thoughts that must have been going through Mary’s head at this moment in time, but she clearly believed what she was being told: “Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ She was being asked to become “The Mother of God!”


What deep Humility and Faith in God Mary must have had to respond promptly and generously to this sudden and totally unexpected role being asked of her by God, as there was no hesitation:

“I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary; - ‘let what you have said be done to me.”


In these words, Mary not only expressed her deep Faith and Trust in God’s Wisdom, Love and Mercy, but she also teaches us the approach we too should have to our own God-given circumstances and duties; - and how there is nothing more important than the Will of God!


We must also be alert to the fact the blessings bestowed on Mary were also blessing bestowed on us as Christians, as Mary is not only the Mother of God, but she is also our Mother, as was made very clear to us by Christ himself as he hung on the Cross!

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