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, favored 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 favor 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.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
What is it like suddenly to hear your name called out when you’re walking down a street? I guess it depends on who is calling you. If it is the voice of a stranger, you’re going to feel surprised. You may even panic and want to run!
As Luke tells it in today’s gospel, Mary was troubled but she didn’t run. She listened to Gabriel and was calmed when he said: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” What a compliment!
Mary’s life, from her very conception, was holy and pleasing to God. She had no reason to fear. The Blessed Trinity (through Gabriel) now calls her name and invites her to say yes or no to becoming the mother of the Messiah. Mary’s surprise gives way to joy and acceptance: Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.
Through salvation history, God calls and we respond. Sometimes it’s life-altering, sometimes not. But three things are constant: God will call, he will honor my freedom to decline, and he forever promises: Do not be afraid, I am with you!
—Fr. Paul Faulstich, SJ spent many years in India and is now doing pastoral ministry at Loyola University in Chicago.
Mary, Virgin and Mother, you, moved by the Holy Spirit, welcomed the word of life in the depths of your humble faith. As you gave yourself completely to the Eternal One, help us to say our own “yes” to the urgent call, as pressing as ever, to proclaim the good news of Jesus.
—Pope Francis: The Joy of the GospelPlease share the Good Word with your friends!