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.
The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe reminds me that we can never hear the “yes” of Mary enough. It opened the door on human time and allowed our Creator to enter in and show us, through the words and actions of his only begotten son, how to better hear and see and love.
How might we draw our Holy Mother closer to our personal devotions? Here’s something I try: I once heard a choir sing the old Basque Christmas folk carol “Gabriel’s Message,” based on today’s Gospel passage. I was so moved by the arrangement of the words, and the tune that carries it, that I memorized it. What a wonderful way for me to pray this Gospel scene!
When the storms of life batter our faith, I find that the more “prayer tools” I have in my toolbox the better: different ways of praying; a wide-ranging litany of saints; age-tested hymns to hum as I go. Do you have a favorite hymn? Why not Google the lyrics and begin committing it to memory today? A comforting tune in dark places can be a candle to light the pathway forward.
—Joe Kraemer, SJ, is a scholastic of the West Province currently in Regency in the Advancement Office at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California.
The angel Gabriel from heaven came
His wings as drifted snow his eyes as flame
“All hail” said he “thou lowly maiden Mary,
Most highly favored lady,” Gloria”
For know a blessed mother thou shalt be,
All generations laud and honor thee,
Thy Son shall be Emanuel, by seers foretold
Most highly favored lady,” Gloria!
Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head
“To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said,
“My soul shall laud and magnify his holy name.”
Most highly favored lady. Gloria!
Of her, Emanuel, the Christ was born
In Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn
And Christian folk throughout the world will ever say:
“Most highly favored lady,” Gloria!
—Text: Basque carol, paraphrased by Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924), originally based on Angelus Ad Virginem, Anonymous 13th or 14th Century Latin