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 hand-maid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.” And the angel left her.
In today’s gospel reading, we witness how young Mary was told about God’s plans on her. From the outset, she seems totally unprepared for what is happening to her—as if she had absolutely no idea that she is a most holy person! Hence her troubled reaction when she hears the angel Gabriel call her “highly favored one” (the translation “full of grace” is pitifully pale and inadequate, as anybody who knows Greek can tell). She is highly favored (by God, as implied by the divine passive used here). How? Then she voices her perplexity with absolute candor: she is still a virgin, how can she become pregnant? (It is implied here that she plans to remain a virgin). Her entire attitude reflects utter candor and simplicity. She does not doubt the words of the angel (contrary to Zechariah when he is told about the future birth of John the Baptist), she is just curious as to the mode of their implementation. Once that point is clarified, she readily offers herself to God’s will. And why not? She has always belonged entirely to God…
Are we ready to embrace the plans of God on us?
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