Lk 1:26-38 Announcement to Mary
Sr Margaret Ghosn mshf
This Sunday’s Gospel passage is the announcement to Mary. Her response is very different to Zechariah. Let’s take a closer look . . .
The angel comes to a small house in the town of Nazareth. This is in contrast to the angel’s first appearance in the holy sanctuary of the Temple but it serves to show that God is present everywhere. The angel comes to an unknown young woman, and not only to holy priests, for God’s Good news is for all.
The angel greets Mary with the words, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you’ (v28) a special endearment, not reflected in the initial encounter with Zechariah. Mary’s response was perplexing and pondering (v29), very different from Zechariah who was terrified and overwhelmed by fear (v12). From the first words, Mary is open to what lay ahead. She was prepared to listen. When the angel explains the purpose of the visit, Mary does not object but simply asks, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ (v34). She is seeking clarification in contrast to Zechariah who doubted, ‘How will I know this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years’ (v18). Their questions differ, their attitudes differ. Mary seeks direction whereas Zechariah wants proof. Mary could believe in miracles. Zechariah couldn’t. We can add here that when Mary is told about Elizabeth’s pregnancy, she doesn’t doubt or question, but accepts this to be so, and rushes to be by her side. Mary and Elizabeth are in contrast to Sarah who was promised a child with Abraham in their old age, but scoffed at the mention (Gen 18:9-12), whereas Elizabeth was accepting of God’s will.
Where Zechariah is struck mute, Mary gives voice to God’s workings, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word’ (v38). Mary freely chose to be part of God’s idea. She accepted and believed God’s will was best. It is the women, Mary and Elizabeth, who show the correct response to God. May we too learn to listen with open minds and welcoming hearts. Amen