A Virgin Conceives
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary.
Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her “Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.”
She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.
"He will be great; he be called ‘Son of the Highest.’ The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; He will rule Jacob’s house forever— no end, ever, to his kingdom.”
Mary said to the angel, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you; Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God.
“And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”
And Mary said, “Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.”
Then the angel left her.
Most Loving Father, thank you for this night and for all it represents. Thank you for the hope you bestow, the peace you bring, the love you pour out, and the joy you give. We praise you most of all for Jesus, your Word made flesh. May he light our way as the holy star lit the way for the wise men.
Dear Friends, I have started today’s Reflection with the opening prayer for this Special Day, Christmas Eve. For all of us it is a great day, the day we prepare to celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world and becoming one of us. Even though some people don’t believe in Jesus, He was born for each and every one of us and He offered His life for you and for me as well. When the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary, he told her that God had chosen her to be the Mother of His Son. The angel Gabriel also told her that her relative Elizabeth, who was quite old and had longed to have a baby, was six months pregnant. Let us look at what Mary said in response to the words of the angel. At first she was not quite sure what all this meant. The angel re-assured her and told her not to be afraid. She trusted God and loved Him and she said YES to God, ‘Here am I the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word’. Mary believed in God with all her heart with all her soul. Let us take a few minutes to reflect on today’s Gospel. Find a quiet place and read God’s words slowly and let them speak to you personally. Think on these words, ‘do not be afraid’ and ‘for nothing will be impossible with God.’
What does the message of the Annunciation mean for us today?
This message means three things, as demonstrated by Mary. First of all, Faith, having true faith in God – faith being made possible. God announces his intention to send His Dearly beloved Son to earth, to be born of the Virgin Mary. God’s Son, the King of Kings was going to be born in a lowly stable. He is the long awaited Saviour, come down from Heaven, so that we may be forgiven for all wrongs that we have done and be reconciled to God. We can either choose to believe in this or not. Mary’s response was faith. Mary had faith in God and believed in Him.
Second is faithfulness. Faith without faithfulness isn’t true faith. Mary endured the social scorn and disgrace of her pregnancy faithfully. She didn’t say yes to God immediately, as she did not quite understand what the angel was telling her. The angel told her not to be afraid that God had a special plan for her. She stayed the course. She said her Yes to God, when she said ‘Let it done to me according to your word’.
Thirdly Mary’s faith and faithfulness bore fruit. We know that the fruit of her faith and faithfulness is Christ, God’s Son Jesus, the Child she gave birth to.
God still speaks to His people today, in the very depths of our hearts. His message to each of us is His Annunciation, an invitation to every one of us to respond as Mary did - with faith, faithfulness, and fruitfulness - as Christ is born anew in our lives. So let us go forth like Mary, as one who is highly favoured, for the Lord is with us. Let us go forth like Mary, as one bearing Christ, for the Holy Spirit is within us. Let us listen for and respond to God’s Annunciation in our lives, for God is still announcing good news today and every day.
Think back on a time when you sensed God calling you to do something impossible or that caused you to be “troubled.” What happened?
Look at your relationships, friendships, your family and marriage, your jobs and careers, your education, your home. All of those are things that shape your life, that make you the person you are. None of that is necessarily wrong. We have decisions to make and many opportunities lie before us. The difficulty comes when we start to believe that we are the ultimate creator of our own life. Thinking like this can sometimes bring a heavy weight on our shoulders. That is what happened to King David when he decided that God needed a big fine cedar house like his. David was convinced that he was the one to build a house for God, until God said, “No.” God reminded David that He alone, God is the builder and creator of life. It has been that way from the beginning. Hand everything over to God, even all the boring day to day things, little things as well as the big things. Ask for His help with everything. Don’t try to do everything on your own. Ask him to lead you and guide you through every day. Then the impossible will be possible. Without God we can do nothing on our own.
Mary is a part of us. She is that part of us that is womb-like, the part that gives birth to Christ in our world. To reject Mary is to say no to God. To reject Mary is to reject the holy of holies within us. To reject Mary is to end the ongoing story of creation and salvation. To love and venerate Mary, however, is to discover the life God is creating in us and who we are to be when we grow up. Mary teaches us how to say, “Yes.”
Each one of us is to echo Mary’s words, “Let it be.” This does not mean that we do not have to do anything at all. It means that we must let down the veils that we think separate us. We must remove all obstacles that stop us from doing what God asks of us. Mary sees her virginity as a veil of separation. “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” “How can this be?” With those words Mary acknowledges that the life Gabriel announces is not the life she was creating for herself. “Let it be.” With those words Mary receives the life God is creating in her. Between “How can this be?” and “Let it be” the impossible becomes a reality, the never before heard of, will forever be spoken of, and the veil between divinity and humanity has fallen.
Offer up to God whatever excuses, reasons, and veils you have, that keep you from doing what God asks of you. Don’t think that God has asked you to do what is impossible. Gabriel will tell you differently. “Nothing will be impossible with God.”
Today, we also remember all mothers to be, those whose babies are expected in the months to come. Just as the birth of Jesus was expected by Mary and Joseph with great joy, may every new born child be welcomed by their parents, brothers and sisters, and the rest of their families with great joy and with thanksgiving. May all these babies when born, be welcomed into families where they will be loved, cherished and nurtured. Our beloved God calls us to be one family and we are all brothers and sisters of Jesus. We want to support our families, especially our Mothers who gave birth to us and today, it is a wonderful opportunity for us to express our thanksgiving to our Mothers. We share the joy and happiness of all expectant Mothers who will soon give the birth to their babies. On this beautiful and special day all of us are united as we await the celebration of Jesus’ birth. We think of all those babies whose birth will be very soon. So in this occasion I’d like to offer a special prayer which is dedicated to expectant mothers. (See below)
Eternal God, this joyful day is radiant with the brilliance of your one true light.
May that light illuminate our hearts and shine in our words and deeds.
May the hope, the peace, the joy, and the love represented by the birth in Bethlehem
fill our lives and become part of all that we say and do.
May we share the divine life of your son Jesus Christ,
even as he humbled himself to share our humanity.
Bless us and the feast that You have provided for us,
let us be thankful for the true gift of Christmas, your Son.
All loving God,
you created the human family
as a reflection of your own divine life
so that your creation might share in your happiness.
Hear our prayer for your daughter
who awaits the birth of her child.
She has cooperated with you in giving life.
Assist her now as she prepares to give birth
to the child in her womb.
May Mary be her guide and support,
calming her fears and strengthening her love.
May your daughter be filled with your peace and blessing,
so that she may bring her child into this world safely and in good health
to the praise and glory of your name.