“And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” Luke 1: 28-30When I try to put myself in Mary’s place in this passage, I am struck by a couple of things. Just like Mary, I am wondering what it meant to be called “favored one”. Unlike Mary, I am not familiar with what it means to be a Jewish girl in Nazareth in that time so I cannot fully understand what implication hearing “The Lord is with you,” would have. But we believe that Mary, being a peasant girl would have been startled by these words which is why Gabriel follows up with “do not be afraid.” To be favored, meant that the grace of God was upon you. As Christians, this is something we wholeheartedly embrace but Mary would have been confused by such presumption. Pope John Paul II made an interesting and meaningful statement when he called Mary the “Co-Redemptrix” with Jesus. I know this causes many who think that Mary gets more attention than she deserves to bristle, but I happen to agree with the position. Mary’s acquiescence allows the incarnation to happen. If we believe that we are given free will, then we must also appreciate that Mary had a choice. Mary chose the harder part. Setting herself up for ridicule, punishment and possibly death, she offers herself as the human vessel of divine grace. Within her womb, the Promise of God begins to grow. By the gift of the Spirit she both knows that she is hearing the truth and trusts that all will be okay. That is quite an example of faith. In the person of her being she bears witness to the love of God for his people. She begins the new covenant. This would be even more shocking if we didn’t know that Mary did this because she knew her Scripture as well as she knew her own name. To me, this is evidence of the need to really know Scripture. Without the Word of God living within our hearts, how can we know when it is our time to be called on to do something. How can we identify the stranger, the widow or the orphan? Without the Word of God, how can we really know our own story as it mingles within the story of a people who seek their God. Advent is the perfect time to stop, to look and to listen. Advent is the perfect time to slow down even though at Christmas we tend to speed up. It is a wonderful time to pick up your Bible and use a couple of resources to dig deeper into that story. I know it can be hard to stop and it can be scary to really slow down and really look at what is around us, but as Gabriel told Mary, so I am sure we would be told, “do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God.”
Wife, mother, blogger. Director of Faith Formation at an upstate inner city Catholic parish. Have facilitated adult faith groups. I love to garden even when it goes wrong. Same with writing...and we know it can go wrong. But here is where my love of God and love of writing intersect.