4th Sunday of Advent (B) 2020
Mary was deeply disturbed by the words of the Angel Gabriel. We are so familiar with this scene that we can wonder why was she disturbed; she was even afraid we are told a line later. I want you to imagine you are having your breakfast: tea, toast and marmalade. It is something you do every morning; it’s so routine you don’t think about it. But now imagine, one morning, an angel suddenly appears. At first you wouldn’t know it was an angel; you’d probably think it was a ghost. Would you be frightened? I bet you would be. So Mary’s reaction was normal; anyone would have been frightened. But the angel says to her: “Mary, do not be afraid.”
This was the beginning of the greatest event in human history. No wonder it was extraordinary; an angel, and not just any angel, but the Archangel Gabriel, appeared to Mary and spoke to her. At that moment she was in another world; and extraordinary world; the world of God and angels. She must have pinched herself to see if she was dreaming. It seems Mary quickly lost her fear and listened to what the Angel said to her. His words were strange; everything about this experience was strange. “You are to conceive and bear a son.” This bit wasn’t so strange, Mary had just got engaged to Joseph and was looking forward to having children. But the angel went on to say, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you.” This was extraordinary. Young as she was she understood what the Angel Gabriel was saying. But God had prepared her for this moment. Her faith was so deep that she was ready to say yes to the Angel, which she did in those unforgettable words, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me.”
Luke then says quite simply, starkly even, “And the angel left her”. Mary was left alone. Can you even begin to imagine how she felt. I bet she didn’t touch the rest of her breakfast. She had just agreed to participate in the most extraordinary event in human history; an event greater even that the creation of the universe. The world and her world in particular would never be the same again. Her yes, her fiat, meant that God’s plan for the salvation of humanity could go ahead. It would be a huge understatement to say, we owe so much to Mary. Our gratitude should know no bounds.