Saturday after the Third Sunday in Advent
Scripture: St. Luke 1:26-38 (NKJV)
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” 29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” 35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.” 38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
At first, we see Mary troubled by the angel’s greeting. How was the Lord with her in so special a way that an angel should call attention to it? This is obviously an angelic being, but is he telling her the truth? While one rightly fears an angel as a messenger of the true God, one’s fear must be directed toward the Lord Himself above any angel, so while she would have the fear caused by being in the presence of one who could dwell in the presence of God, she must have some evidence that she is not being deceived.
Thus, the angel tells Mary not to be afraid because she would be the bearer of God’s own Son, the promised Messiah who will reign forever. She is being especially shown God’s grace: He has just declared that her vocation will be the rearing of God in human flesh! Still, every word that is true is to be established in the mouth of two or three witnesses, so she asks how she will conceive and bear this Child.
The angel supplies the evidence that is necessary: not by any human means of conception, but the Holy Spirit will cause her to conceive while remaining a virgin. To accompany this proof (which links back to Genesis 3 through, for example, Isaiah 7), the angel provides as a witness the natural—yet miraculous!—pregnancy of Mary’s kinswoman, Elizabeth. With the Biblical standard for proof satisfied, Mary makes her confession of willingness, based upon her servanthood toward the One True God.
Thank you, O Holy Spirit, that You have given us a faith that is not apart from fact, but fully established upon it. Grant us more certainly to learn Your Word, that we happily receive God’s will because of the confidence that the facts of our salvation give us.