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Luke 1:26-38

The Word of God

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel said to her, "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 holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:26-38
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Theologians constructed a theory of original sin, and another theory to explain how Mary was exempt from the curse of Adam -- the Immaculate Conception. In prayer I'd rather remember the old Irish poem:
    • Queen of all queens, oh wonder of the loveliness of women, Heart which hath held in check for us the righteous wrath of God; Strong staff of light and fosterer of the Bright Child of heaven, Pray thou for us as we now pray that we may be forgiven.
    • Repeating a phrase in prayer may make it go deep within us. It's like a favourite piece of music which we can hum over and over again. It is part of us. 'I am the servant of the Lord' was such a phrase for Mary, spoken first at one of the biggest moments in her life. In dry times of prayer, a sentence like that can occupy mind and heart and raise us close to God.
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    • Mary, the young girl of no status, from the village of Nazareth, an utterly insignificant place is signaled out, called, chosen, and overshadowed with God’s Spirit. Her response moves from one of fear to total trust in God’s inscrutable designs.
    • “Mary has always been proposed to the faithful by the church as an example to be imitated, not precisely in the type of life that she led and much less for the sociocultural background in which she lived and which scarcely today exists anywhere today. Rather she is held up as an example to the faithful for the way in which in her own particular life she fully and responsibly accepted the word of God and acted on it, and because charity and the spirit of service were the driving force of her actions. She is worthy of imitation because she was the first and most perfect of Christ’s disciples”. (Pope Paul VI)
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    • The angel said to Mary, ‘You will conceive and bear a son,’ not ‘Are you willing to conceive and bear a son?’ That is how God’s will comes to us; in the things that happen to us; more than in the things we choose!
    • Nothing is impossible to God! In difficult times, it is good to remember that God is fully in charge of our world. Everything happens according to his plan. There is always hope.
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    • “Rejoice, so highly favoured. The Lord is with you.” Mary, the young girl of no status, from the village of Nazareth, an utterly insignificant place is signaled out, called, chosen, and overshadowed with God’s Spirit. A unique gift, a “cause of our joy.”
    • “Do not be afraid” - words for you too. Much to make you afraid. But the Lord has promised to be with you always to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20)
    • “And his reign will have no end.” Might Mary have recalled these words as she stood before her dying Son?
    • “Here I am...”Help me, Lord, to do your will as Mary did, docile to your teaching.
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    • Scripture leaves us in no doubt about God being a long-range planner - he can determine a whole series of events to come to maturity in his own good time. In fact, he has done this for the benefit of us all – planning, even before the beginning of the world, for us to become sisters and brothers of Jesus.
    • For the grand plan to come to completion, the cooperation of Mary was needed. And that is why the devotion of the faithful has long believed that Mary had to be specially privileged - namely, through being herself exempted from any touch of inherited sin.
    • The Gospel writer here attempts a ‘close up’ of Mary’s epoch-making moment – as she offers her acceptance of God’s plan for her to be the mother of Jesus. She gets reassurance in answer to a query - the Holy Spirit will come upon her, and the power of the Most High will over-shadow her.
    • But many a prophet quailed before the image of an angel arriving to call him to his particular role. Perhaps Mary is helped to ‘pull herself together’ by the news that even the aged Elizabeth has been favoured with a child - Mary then knows that the Lord has begun to take a hand not just in her own life, but in the course of events in the world as a whole.
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    • For Mary the angel’s message is a blessing; but very much a blessing in disguise. It is placing her in a very difficult position, socially, culturally, religiously, personally. She has to trust this interior movement in her heart and ‘go with it’. And she does.
    • In our lives too there are turning points where we may experience an invitation to embrace something difficult rather than discard it. Something which wrecks our dream for ourselves or for our loved ones. There’s a need to discern the spirits.
    • Is there release from something into another way of being: more open, more generous, more humble, deeper service of Christ Jesus.
    • If it is disconcerting that does not mean that it is bad. What response would your better self give?
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    • This scene is an image of what true prayer is about. God comes to visit me through a messenger – a line from scripture, an event, a memory. I entertain God! God takes the initiative, and greets me, surprisingly as ‘the favoured one’. What does it feel like to be God’s favourite?
    • God has something in mind for me to do; like Mary I am to bear good news to others, and the Holy Spirit will help me. God waits for my response. If I say ‘Yes!’ the work of God in our world will be brought forward. Like her I dare to say, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ It is all so simple and yet so awesome.
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Mary, the young girl of no status, from the village of Nazareth, an utterly insignificant place is signaled out, called, chosen, and overshadowed with God’s Spirit. Her response moves from one of fear to total trust in God’s inscrutable designs.
    • Lord, may I grow each day in trusting your amazing annunciation to me: “I am your highly favoured one” I am not to be afraid. You rejoice in me! In the ‘busyness’ of life, keep these thoughts before me. Like Mary, may I too be ready to play my part in bringing you to birth.
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    • Like Mary, I too came into the world for a purpose. That purpose will not be revealed to me as dramatically as it was to her. Perhaps she heard the word of God so clearly because she was comfortable with silence.
    • Too often I fear the emptiness, the darkness, the silence within me. Yet it is there that the Spirit lives and works, even when my prayer seems most arid. God, help me to go daily into the quiet of my own heart, to meet you there, in love and adoration.
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    • As I look at this familiar scene, the question hits me: How do I react in a crisis? How does Mary? She is not flattered but perplexed, and she voices her perplexity. She hears God’s messenger but wonders can this be true? How does it square with my virginity? She knows that she is free to say Yes or No. She ponders the invitation in her heart, as she ponders later events in the life of her son. Then her response is from a full heart.
    • Seat of Wisdom, teach me how to use my head and heart in a crisis.
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    • When a woman in the crowd cried to Jesus: Blessed is the womb that bore you, he replied, Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it. First of these was his mother, who said Let it be with me according to your word. We remember her words whenever we pray the Angelus.
    • Lord, this is not an easy prayer to make. You prayed it yourself in Gethsemane in a sweat of blood: Not my will but yours be done. Help me to make it the pattern of my life. What issues of surrender and trust does it raise for me?