2 Samuel 7: 1-5, 8b-12 – Romans 16: 25-27 – Luke 1: 26-38
As we draw near to the celebration of Christmas Day later this week, the Church presents us with an array, a tapestry, of images. These include different event which were a part of Christ’s first coming. Different stories are recounted, different persons are introduced: angels, shepherd, magi. Today’s account of the Annunciation focuses our attention on one of the central figures of this blessed event: Mary, the mother of Jesus.
When we think of Mary we often tend to romanticize the story too much. When we think of Mary as the Mother of God, we see her as glorified with her Son. We see her almost as some sort of supernatural being. We also see her as an adult.
But Mary who dominates the first Christmas was hardly this at all. She was a young girl, perhaps 14 or 15 years of age. (Look at someone that age: a daughter or granddaughter, sister, niece or neighbor.) How young, how fragile perhaps, with so much yet to experience, to learn. This was the Mary of that first Christmas.
What did we hear as proposed to Mary? She was to have a child. How could that be, she wondered as she was not yet married. Mary had no supernatural knowledge beforehand. An angel had come to announce this to her. So she was puzzled. This young girl, this humble maiden, was to be the instrument through which the whole course of history would be changed. God’s plan would be made known as God would assume human existence through her by the birth of her son.
What was her reaction? She was inquisitive as to how this was to take place. She was told that it was to happen through power of the Holy Spirit. She did not fully comprehend what was going on. She had to trust in the Lord despite all that was unknown. She expressed her acceptance of what she was told no matter what might come as a result.
What then follows in her life? She reaches out to another, to her cousin Elizabeth, who was also expecting a child. God had touched her, so she acts to touch another. She gives praise and thanks to God for all that is happening. Then she has to travel a long and difficult distance in the last month of her pregnancy. When she gives birth to her son, it takes place in a crude animal shelter. As the story is told in the Gospel, it is an amazing story. Mary is an amazing young woman.
Christmas has so many images that are put before us. This year is not like other years. Adjustments have to be made in so many different ways. But in the midst of all of this, keep in mind the image of the teenage girl, Mary. See her strength, her ability to contend with the odds which were against her. Recognize that it was her faith, her courage, and her trust that made possible the incarnation of Jesus Christ, of our good and gracious God.