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The Annunciation account from Luke’s gospel usually stands by itself in the liturgy, but in Advent we read it as the evangelist would have us read it –after the account of an angel announcing to the priest Zechariah that a child will be born to him and his wife Elizabeth. (Luke 1, 5-25, December 19th)
The angel approached Zechariah in the temple, yet the priest can’t believe he and his wife can have a child. They’re too old. He falls into doubt.
In Nazareth, Mary responds with faith to the angel’s request, in spite of things far more troubling and hard to comprehend. “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word,” the young girl says.
Mary believes in God’s power and wisdom, and so conceives the Son who will be born to her in Bethlehem. “ The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” The consequences of the message were beyond her understanding, yet she believed and accepted whatever would come.
“Then the angel left her.” The scriptures say nothing about the angel returning. Mary’s faith was her only light for knowing what would be done to her. No heavenly voices guided her as she carried the child and gave birth to him. She saw him grow “in wisdom and age and grace.” In faith she followed him in his mission in Galilee and then to Jerusalem where he died on a cross and rose again.
No wonder the angel called her “full of grace.” The Lord was with her.
In the Collect Prayer for today we pray “O God, grant that by Mary’s example we may in humility hold fast to your will.”
- Fr. Victor Hoagland, C.P.