Scripture: 1st Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14; Resp. Psalm: Psalm 23:1-6; Gospel.: Luke 1:26-38
The greatest message ever given to any human person. The fulfillment of the ancient promise and the beginning of God's new engagement with His creatures. The importance of the message is underscored by the personage of the messenger: the Archangel Gabriel.
Gabriel was sent by God to Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The name of this virgin was Mary. The word of God thus gives us a historical break down of the facts.
The greeting of the angel revealed the kind of way Yahweh viewed this virgin daughter of Judah: "Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you." In other words, the plenitude of the favour of God, the fullness of divine grace dwelt with this virgin. The angel did not end it there.
The angel Gabriel unequivocally told her that she had won God's favour. That favour consisted in her choice and election as the one who would be the mother of the Son of God. This virgin was being asked an unheard of favour: to carry divinity in her virginal womb.
By this request, God was changing the course of this virgin's life, the direction and course of her future life was being changed, and she was being sent on a mission of no return. The demand was going to task the best of her abilities and stretch her to the limits of her human capacities for endurance. But this virgin was trustful, faithful and obedient.
The virgin was to conceive and bear a, Son. She was to name Him Jesus. This Child would be great and would 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."
This conception would be extraordinary and totally supernatural. There would be no human collaboration in the way every human person is conceived and brought to life. This conception would set aside the law of nature. It would be achieved by the power of the Holy Spirit. The angel told the virgin that "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."
The Child is not going to be an ordinary child. The child will be truly the Son of God, the only begotten of the Most High. The conception of John the Baptist by Elizabeth, her aged mother, was given by the angel as further proof that God had the power to do whatever He willed and that nothing was impossible for Him to achieve or bring about.
The announcement of the birth of this divine Child was what the story of the encounter of Ahaz with Yahweh pre-announced years before this event. Ahaz was told not to enter into useless human alliances that would not bring any protection and salvation to the people. Instead, he was told to rely on the power of Yahweh and the sign that Yahweh was never going to abandon His people was that the "the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel, a name which means 'God-is-with-us.' "
The promise would be fulfilled. God would dwell among His people. His glory would be revealed. Salvation and redemption would come. Heaven would unite with earth. The barrier separating us from God would be removed. Man at last would be set free. As we approach the commemoration of the event of our salvation, let us use the next days for intense preparation for His coming and our encounter with Him.
Let us pray: "O God, eternal majesty, whose ineffable Word the immaculate Virgin received through the message of an Angel and so became the dwelling-place of divinity, filled with the light of the Holy Spirit, grant, we pray, that by her example we may in humility hold fast to your will." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.