Gospel: Luke 1:39-55
39In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” 46And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 54He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
I have included the verses of Mary’s song that is used as the Psalm for this week.
This is the greeting that takes place when Mary leaves Nazareth to spend time with her cousin, Elizabeth, who is expecting a son, who will be named John. John the Baptist.
Before this journey, Mary had received the word about the Word Made Flesh she will carry. This is the weight and wonder she bears as she comes to Elizabeth and Zechariah’s home.
Along the way, she must have pondered the words she had heard. Young Mary, engaged to a carpenter named Joseph. Just a young teen in a remote village of no more than 200 people, this tender young woman is greeted by an angel, “Greetings, Favored One.”
We can understand how frightened and surprised Mary must have been, but what about the angel? Can you imagine what the angel was thinking when he speaks to Mary?
Frederick Buechner puts it this way:
“She struck the angel Gabriel as hardly old enough to have a child at all, let alone this child, but he had been entrusted with a message to give, and he gave it. He told her what the child was to be named, and who he was to be, and something about the mystery that was to come upon her. ‘You mustn’t be afraid, Mary,’ he said. As he said it, he only hoped she wouldn’t notice that beneath the great golden wings he himself was trembling with fear to think that the whole future of creation hung now on the answer of a girl.”
The good news of Christmas begins with a message for a young girl. Who would have thought Mary, this young girl from Nazareth, would be a part of God’s plan? What were her credentials? If we were in charge, is this who we would choose to be the “Theotokos” - the bearer of God? Would we choose this teenage girl to be the one to bring the gift?
But think of the wisdom of God, which seems foolish at times. Remember, as St. Paul tells us, God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom. The angel asks Mary, and Mary says yes.
You see, Mary said YES in the face of all that would tell her to say NO. Maybe that is why God chose a Teen-ager! OF course, a teen-ager - When everything and everyone says NO, it takes the stubborn attitude of an adolescent to say, “Yes. Here am I. Your servant.” The wisdom of this foolishness.
Do not be afraid - easier said than done - she is but a child, yet a faith-filled and faithful one at that. She receives the gift, trusting in God’s wisdom. AND NOW - the gift giving can begin! How did things go for Mary after this encounter with the angel Gabriel? Did she walk a bit more gingerly? Did she consider the great responsibility of the gift she carried inside?
What an incredible gift she is given, yet how great was the cost to her as the recipient of this gift? With great blessing comes great responsibility. Did the gift outweigh the stares, the questions, the ridicule, the whispers behind her back?
For now - the gift is hers - hers alone, one she probably wished she could exchange at the local Wal-Mart for something easier to carry, not nearly as heavy. The gift she receives is the gift she gives - both physically and spiritually. The gift she receives is the gift GOD gives to you and to me and to the world, so that God’s plan of salvation may be complete.
God knows the perfect gift for us. Only the Word made flesh can point us to the love of God. Only God incarnate would show us God’s love for us. We are blessed because the girl said yes. Celebrate the gift – the perfect gift – the babe, the Son of Mary!
As Elizabeth greets her, John in the womb leaps for joy. Affirmation for Mary. Yes Mary, this is as God has said.
Let us Pray. Almighty God, we give thanks for Mary’s “yes” to the news your messenger Gabriel brings. May we be so bold as to agree to your plans for our lives. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.