Gabriel visits Mary

GOSPEL: LUKE 1.26-38
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 for
ever, 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.

In Luke’s Gospel, the story of Jesus doesn’t begin where one might
presume it should begin. It doesn’t begin with Jesus. Rather, the story of
Jesus begins with his mother. While we may be tempted to read our own
finely-tuned theological presumptions back into this story, we would be
wise to read the text for what it is saying and not for what we have come
to expect it to say. In other words, the Incarnation is not the central
theme in this passage, nor is Luke trying to convince us that Mary is the
Theotokos (“God-bearer”), although aspects of these ideas certainly can
be inferred. Rather, Luke would have us turn our attention to the fact
that God has used the meekest of human beings to accomplish his divine
will. He would have us meditate upon Mary’s response to God (her
willingness in saying, “Let it be…”), and perhaps it is this preexisting
demeanor that has earned her the title “favored one,” even before the
child is conceived in her womb.

  • How important is Mary’s “let it be,” and how does it enhance how we
    think about the Incarnation?
  • How significant is it that God does not bypass human participation in
    bringing about his divine will?