Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Annunciation to Virgin MaryLuke 1:26-38
Vs 38 “I am the Lord's servant, may your word to me be fulfilled”.
In the Christian Church calendar, Advent is the season of preparation for the celebration of Christmas and also of preparation for the second coming of Christ. Advent comes from the Latin word ‘Adventus’ which is translated from the Greek word ‘Parousia’- which means ‘coming’. Parousia was used to describe both the arrival of Jesus as a baby and His second coming. It also signifies the longing for the messiah's coming into our hearts and lives. Moreover, it alerts us of His second coming as the king.
In this passage, St. Luke portrays the encounter between Angel Gabriel and Mary, a village girl, who was betrothed to Joseph. As per the Jewish custom, a betrothal lasted for a year, and it was as binding as marriage. It could be dissolved only by divorce. Mary was living with her parents in Nazareth and waiting with happy anticipation for the day of her wedding. This was the most exciting time in her life.
A Life-Changing Encounter: (Vs 26-28)
The intention of the story is to draw out a dramatic contrast to the story of Zachariah and Elizabeth. During the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel had another message for Mary. Angel Gabriel visited Mary and said, “Greetings! You who are highly favoured, the Lord is with you”. From human standards, Mary was an unimportant teenager, but to God, however, she was blessed. This short statement leads to Mary wondering what the angel meant by these words. According to Gabriel’s announcement, Mary was going to conceive and bear a son and his name would be Jesus, also known as the son of the highest. But then Mary’s reaction was a bit puzzling. It was placing her in a difficult position socially, culturally, religiously and personally.
In our lives too there are turning points where we may experience an invitation to embrace something difficult rather than discard it. Something which wrecks our dreams for ourselves or our loved ones. Like Mary, we too are planted into this world for a purpose. That purpose will not be revealed to us dramatically as it was to her. Perhaps she heard the voice of God so clearly because she was comfortable with silence. Sometimes, God may visit us through a messenger, a line from the scripture, an event, or a memory. As we are living in a cyber-addicted world, and amidst the busyness, we require the discerning power from above to choose between the voice of God and the voice of the world.
A Life-Changing Commitment: (Vs 38)
“I am the Lord’s servant”
Without exaggeration, we may call this one of the greatest statements of faith in the entire Bible. Mary was clearly in a dilemma over how to tackle the crisis. She was faced with the dilemma of losing the man she loved, disobeying her parents, and of risking religious ex-communication. She was struggling with the question of whether her own fiancé would understand her pregnancy. She knew her own life was at stake because she could have been stoned and killed for a pregnancy out of wedlock. Despite all these thoughts racing through her mind, Mary made a definitive decision to accept Gabriel’s invitation. She looked beyond herself and her enormous burden and simply sought to serve God by affirming, “behold I am the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word”. She said YES to the plan of God.
Mary’s surrender would involve physical and emotional costs. Her relationship with her parents would be tested. Her betrothal with Joseph would be endangered. Her reputation in the community would be jeopardized. Despite all the challenges, she said YES to the plan of God. She listened to the message and responded with an unconditional submission. It resulted in the God of the universe taking the human form, walking among our streets, embracing little children, touching the untouchables, healing the sick, raising the dead, and promising eternal life through His atoning sacrifice.
God’s plan always involves using ordinary people to bring extraordinary changes. The same applies to all of us. Remember, God has called us to be His viable instruments in our vocations, whether as teachers, health workers, financiers, engineers, or labourers. In fact, the Holy Spirit can use us anywhere to touch the lives of those around us.
Oh Lord, the seat of wisdom, teach us how to use our head and heart in a crisis. Make us more like Mary, willing to believe despite our doubts. Amen!
Thought of the Day
To be chosen by God so often means at one and the same time a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow.
Rev. Joseph Chacko