An unexpected visitor
Second Week of Advent: Thursday
Reading: Luke 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.
Here we see where a messenger of God was sent to a faith filled young woman to invite her co-operation for the fulfilment of God’s plan of salvation for the world. Such an intervention had never happened before and has not taken place since. One can only imagine the sense of panic, fear and wonder that must have invaded Mary’s young heart when she heard such an incredible request. Familiar with the scriptures she knew that a messiah was promised but she to be the bearer of the Son of God was far from her thoughts. Ever faithful to her beloved Joseph and not wishing for his name to be sullied by town gossip she seeks an explanation from the angel. Conscious of the magnitude of the request and respectful of the natural reservation of a young woman to take on such a responsibility, Gabriel reassures her of God’s choice of her and promises her the gift of the Holy Spirit to enable her to do what God is asking of her. The angel once more confirms that hers would be the Son of the Most High God and that his benevolence had also been bestowed on her cousin Elizabeth. She in the closing years of her life would lay aside the sadness of never have given birth when she held her new born son to her breast. In the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary’s fears are washed away and she utters her faith filled words,’ I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me.’ Through the grace of the Holy Spirit we too are asked to make our own commitment to do whatever the Lord asks of us.