On the Gospel of Luke 1:26-38
4th Sunday of Advent
Today’s Gospel shows us how God entered the life of Mary in Nazareth, but it also shows us how God works in our own lives as well. It is particularly relevant as we are preparing this Advent season for Christ’s coming at Christmastime. What we can notice immediately is how Gabriel tells Mary to “Rejoice, you who enjoy God’s favour! The Lord is with you”. This is the same phrase we know in the Rosary as “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you”. But the greeting is not a simple hello or “hail”, but God is going further and immediately telling Mary to rejoice. In this moment, God has just entered Mary’s life in a powerful way, and the first message He gives to Mary, and to us, is to rejoice. It is the first message of the Gospel. As we prepare for Christ this Advent, we must first and foremost be preparing to rejoice in the Lord.
Now Mary has much to be anxious about, she is aware here that her life will be different from now on if she says “Yes” to God, but the angel Gabriel tells her “’Mary, do not be afraid”. And this message is for us, too. We, too, must not be afraid, but we must rejoice. This is of fundamental importance and so it is right here at the beginning of the Gospel. Sometimes we can get so caught up in trying to please God and do what is right, that we can lose sight of the fact that as Christians we are called to rejoice and to be filled with hope, not fear. It is possible to spend so much time crossing our “t”s and dotting our “i”s, that we lose sight of the Word Himself. In preparing for Christmas this Advent, we should remember that the first and most important thing we can do to prepare for the Lord is to prepare ourselves to rejoice in the Lord!
For when Mary did say to God “You see before you the Lord’s servant, let it happen to me as you have said”, she gave herself over totally and completely to God. In doing this, she did the two things the angel Gabriel said to her in the very beginning. She rejoiced and, in rejoicing, she overcame the fear the angel spoke about when he said “do not be afraid”. In this, Mary instantly does what we spend our whole lives moving towards: allowing God totally into our lives, rejoicing in the Lord always, and not being afraid of that which seems to get in our way.
It is reasonable, brothers and sisters, for us to expect to be able to rejoice in the Lord and not be afraid, even amidst all the many challenges we each face in our daily lives, for in the end of the day “nothing is impossible to God”. If we trust in the Lord, He will act on our behalf and we will be able to both rejoice and not be afraid.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, you who enjoy God’s favour! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Look! You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I have no knowledge of man?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. And I tell you this too: your cousin Elizabeth also, in her old age, has conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ Mary said, ‘You see before you the Lord’s servant, let it happen to me as you have said.’ And the angel left her.
– Luke 1:26-38