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  • Sr Siobhán

The greatest privilege

Fourth Week of Advent: Tuesday

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 found 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.


God’s spirit hovered over the earth and identified Mary as the chosen of the Lord. The events that would unfold were so sacred that an angel of the most high had to be dispatched to convey God’s message of salvation. Mary, a girl of tender years and virginal purity was going about her daily chores when her unexpected guest arrived. Gabriel had come to ask her to accept the greatest privilege that had ever been bestowed on humanity. One can empathise that ‘joyful news’ were not words that sprang immediately to her mind when the request was made. Sensitive to her human vulnerability, Gabriel immediately reassures her that she is the chosen of the Lord; she will live beneath the shadow of the Holy Spirit forever. Her child will have a divine and eternal mission for the salvation of all peoples. Gabriel delights her when he tells her that her cousin Elizabeth has been gifted with new life. The benevolence of God cannot be contained. She ponders on all that is said to her and offers herself unreservedly as handmaid of the Lord.

We too are asked to give ourselves unreservedly to the Lord. Our ‘yes’ is essential if God’s designs for our soul is to be brought to birth. Our co-operation is needed if we are to bear fruit as his co-workers in the kingdom of God. Living beneath the shadow of the Holy Spirit, we will come to know that nothing is impossible for God.


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