26 “In the sixth month of Elisabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.'” ~ Luke 1:26-28, NIV Bible.
An angel came to Mary, the mother of Jesus and said to her, ” Greetings, you who are highly favored.” In retrospect there is no better opening; no news greater; nothing more spatular, than what we as mortal beings could have ever hope to hear whether in the time of Mary or in our own current day. How awesome it would have been to be told by an angel of God that you are highly favored. I can’t even begin to imagine what was going through Mary’s mind upon hearing those words spoke aloud. Building upon what would have most certainly been a highly emotional event for Mary; firstly the shock of seeing an angel of God, secondly the impact of what he had announced must have been overwhelming in and of itself, those breathe taking and at the same time scary words Gabriel spoke to her. To be certain Mary indeed was blessed, and God was truly with her in that moment and in every other precious moment she experienced and would ever experience from that moment on. For me I think Christmas begins with these words spoke by Gabriel, “Greetings, you who are highly favored!”, because through the promise of Jesus, His salvation, the future events which had not yet come to fruition at the time Gabriel came to Mary, I can’t help but to think that Gabriel was really speaking to all of humanity, that he had foreknowledge of the mission of Jesus and was thus so excited when first addressing Mary. There is no arguing to the fact that God loves us and wanted us to be close to him, to have a lasting rewarding relationship with Him, thus logically the first present given to humanity by God in this moment was these very words spoke by Gabriel, thus adding to Gabriel’s excitement and jubilee; “Greetings, you who are highly favored!”
29 “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.'” Luke 1:29-33, NIV Bible.
If it was fear that Mary first felt, then the second emotion must have been the smallness of being mortal, or even more to the point the feelings of being inferior and undeserving. The first question which might have crossed her mind might very well have been; (Who am I to have won such favor with God?) Again many of us today ask this very question when God blesses us with miraculous miracles that we know that we do not deserve; ( Who am I to have won such favor?) This question also would elude to a devastatingly awesome humility that few of us exhibit in today’s time, but Mary was filled with it. In fact it was Mary’s humility which concurred the sin of pride exhibited by Eve in the garden of Eden. It was our beloved mother Mary which redeemed for all time women and their roll in society. Her love which concurred the law in Joseph her betrothed that which kept him from turning her over to be stoned as it was demanded by the Mosaic law of the Jews. This same love that for thirty years fostered in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. All of this told to her by the angel Gabriel to calm her and to ease her for what was to come. Mary’s fear and then humility was honest and forthright and it was qualities which God Himself feel madly in love with. Proof of this can be found in the blessing God bestowed unto her both in life and in death, for what she received no other person has or will ever receive, the chance to give life, to give birth, to be the mother of the most High God. In truth the story of Christmas started nine months before the birth of Christ, as there where many individual miracles which manifested themselves to make this one event possible, all of which was given as foreknowledge to Mary as both a promise and proof of God’s power and unfailing love for her and of all mankind. Truly this is a time of love, sacrifice, forgiveness, mercy, and a season of giving.
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” ~ Luke 1:34, NIV Bible.
On this verse of the Bible, Mary’s concern is one of the worlds not of God, but a fare question as she would have to deal with the repercussions of becoming pregnant before marriage as everyone that she knew would believe she had been with a another man when in fact she had not been. What of Joseph, his disgrace; but how would giving birth to the Son of God be disgraceful? Another valid question which she did not ask, but rather implied with her first and only real question. With no tangible manner in which for Mary to cling onto, the angel Gabriel steadfast in his mission answered her;
” 35 The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.” ~ Luke 1:35-37.
If there was any fear or uncertainty in Mary at this point, the Bible does not mention it, again her humility, her nobility in God, and her strength which she is so known for was all that remained. Her questions seceded and her humanity took over, for Mary must have known her unborn child’s mission, and of his fate. The gravity of the moment and its life altering affects also must have loomed large in her mind. But despite these challenges Mary forged on, and accepted it, gave herself to God, and with it the salvation of all mankind.
” 38 I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her.” ~ Luke 1:38, NIV Bible.
Thus, let it be so that in this Christmas season we celebrate not just the birth of Jesus, but also of Mary His mother who over came fear and doubt, but who also loved us enough to make this sacrifice for all of us. May we remember those gifts which came into this world that might not have if Mary had not been humble and obedient to God. May we give thanks to her bravery and forthrightness in all her deeds in raising Jesus to be who He eventually became.
If you have been moved by this reflection please do not hesitate to leave a comment, and may your holidays be filled with the love and blessing of our loving God.