Gospel: Lk 1:26-38
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God, to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a virgin, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
The angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean.
But the angel said, “Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a son; and you shall call him Jesus. He will be great, and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the kingdom of David, his ancestor; he will rule over the people of Jacob forever; and his reign shall have no end.”
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the holy child to be born of you shall be called Son of God. Even your relative, Elizabeth, is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child; and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible.”
Then Mary said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.” And the angel left her.
Yesterday’s gospel reading presented us with the angel Gabriel’s annunciation to Zechariah of the birth of John the Baptist, and today’s gospel reading presents us with the angel’s annunciation to Mary of the birth of Jesus. Obviously these two scenes are similar and parallel, all the more so that they follow each other in the same chapter of the gospel text. They invite a comparison between the protagonists.
Zechariah is skeptical and withholds his acceptance of Gabriel’s announcement: “How can I believe this?” he asks. But Mary’s attitude is quite different. She accepts Gabriel’s announcement unreservedly. She is just puzzled as to the manner in which the announcement will be fulfilled. And, quite candidly, she voices her perplexity. She believes, but she asks Gabriel to enlighten her faith.
In this, too, Mary is our model. Like her, we must not be afraid to try to enlighten our faith through study, dialogue with well-informed Christians, prayer. Faith will always remain partially dark in this life, but it must not be the faith of an automaton. It must be that of an intelligent being. And it will be all the stronger as it will be enlightened.