“Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you…”
Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Advent
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at His coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever. Amen.
- Book of Common Prayer, 1979
Alleluia. I am the servant of the Lord: may His will for me be done. Alleluia
In today’s Gospel, we find the Lukan account of the visitation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary, to announce the birth of the Christ. Verse 26, ‘In the sixth month…’, the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist, Gabriel was sent to Nazareth to visit Mary, betrothed to Joseph, to announce to her that the Christ would be born of her, even though she was a virgin (not just a young maid, as in some newer translations), …’You have found favor with God…you shall conceive after the Holy Ghost has come upon you…you shall bear a child and call His Name Jesus. He will be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High…and He shall rule over the house of Jacob for ever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.’
What a heady message…even today this would be a shocker to a young girl, about to be married. What would today’s modern, enlightened, empowered young lady do at such a message? Would the Christ be just another statistic of abortion, would He perhaps be left at the police station or the local hospital? Would the world ever know that He had been born, if He were to come as a babe again today?
Mary’s response, found in verse 38, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done in me according to your word.’ should be our response; but would we, could we respond in such a manner? Or would our false sense propriety kick in and cause us to number our Lord among the lost millions of fetal catastrophies?
In Mary’s day, premarital knowledge and adultery were stoning offenses. How easy it would have been for her to seek out a person to help her ‘tend to her difficulty’. How simple to say, ’No’ to God and let Gabriel pass on by. But she did not, she accepted the gift that was offered to her and to the world through her, and allowed the workings of God to continue.
We have the same power over God that Mary had…we can, and often do, say, ‘No’ to God, sometimes daily. As we expect Him this Advent, may we be ever ready to just say, ‘Yes Lord, Your will be done in my life.’
In His Name,