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.
For many of us, our relationships with our parents evolve as we do. The same holds true for my relationship with Mary. Last year, I had the wonderful opportunity to make the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in everyday life. Much to my surprise, I was bowled over by meditating with today’s Gospel, which I had heard countless times before.
“Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” Not “The Lord will be with you if…” or “…will be with you when…” Mary was favored by God as she was – a poor, unmarried, young, lay woman. She was favored because she was – a remarkably generous, loving, faith-filled human being with dignity in and of herself. Mary’s radical availability as a person allowed her, in freedom, to welcome God into the home of her humanity.
Can I see myself as “favored” by God? What gets in my way of saying “Yes!”?
—Katie Davis is a former member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and JVC Magis currently working as a Chaplain and Religious Studies teacher at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago. She serves on the Advisory Board for Jesuit Connections in Chicago and the Chicago Women’s Team for the Ignatian Spirituality Project.
Dear God, creator of women in your own image,
born of a woman in the midst of a world half women,
carried by women to mission fields around the globe,
made known by women to all the children of the earth,
give to the women of our time
the strength to persevere,
the courage to speak out,
the faith to believe in you beyond
all systems and institutions
so that your face on earth may be seen in all its beauty,
so that men and women become whole,
so that the church may be converted to your will
in everything and in all ways.
—Excerpted from “A Litany of Women for the Church” by Joan Chittister, OSB