In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Confession time. I’ve always felt like I was missing something important in today’s Gospel. As a white, middle-class American male of the 21st century, I have trouble grasping what Mary was feeling when she heard the angel’s words.
I can relate to the human struggle. Like Mary, I must face realities that I might rather not accept. So what may I learn as I watch Mary respond to God? How does her response, “Let it be to me according to your word,” inform my response? Is Mary’s “let it be” just passive acceptance of her fate or is something lost in translation? Thankfully, I discovered that the Greek phrase “let it be” denotes more than passive acceptance; it carries also the desire to fulfill God’s will. In today’s vernacular, a modern-day Mary might say “Bring it on!”
So how do I face the day? Will I choose to stand with Mary and say, “Bring it on!”?
—Howard Craig serves as Provincial Assistant for Advancement on behalf of the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin Province Jesuits.
Lord God, I do not know what challenges this day may hold for me. I do not know what sorrows I may endure, what graces I may enjoy, or what choices I may face. But I will choose. And my first choice is this: Lord, I embrace this day. . . according to your will, bring it on!