Responding to God’s word as Mary did
In the account of the announcement of the birth of Jesus, the angel Gabriel appears to Mary and tells her that she will be the mother of the Messiah.
When Gabriel approaches the Virgin Mary and greets her in the small town of Nazareth, he concludes his greeting by saying, “The Lord is with you.”
In a literal sense, these words let Mary know that the Holy Spirit has conceived Jesus within her, allowing her to prepare herself for the next 9 months and the eventual birth of the Lord. In another sense, these words are both a comfort and reminder that God surrounds her and guides her in her journey and in her faith.
During mass, we hear similar words of ‘the Lord be with you,’ and respond with ‘and with your spirit.’ It can become such a common practice and pattern that we do not really think about what we are saying and the meaning behind these phrases.
In the Gospel, just like in Gabriel’s appearance to Mary, these words are typically directed towards someone who is about to do a great deed. They act as a reminder of God’s presence and the faith that these people can place in Him. God had a plan for each of these people and similarly he has a plan for each of us.
When we hear these words, we must take heart and endeavour to feel the presence of God who leads us in our faith.
Just as Mary was frightened and ill prepared when the angel Gabriel bestowed upon her God’s only son, we too may not always feel prepared to take on a certain task or face our own challenges.
When we hear these words, in the back of our minds we must say, “I am not alone, God is with me, I shall not feel afraid.” Although Mary is perplexed by her exchange with Gabriel, and even though she did not actively seek involvement in God’s plans, she is faithful and in her good grace she responds in accordance with God’s wishes.
Like Mary, we too must always be prepared to hear God’s word and know that the Lord is with us.
In this Christmas week, may we be reminded that God brought Jesus into this world for the salvation of all humankind. May we live out his vision and be truly guided by the spirit that surrounds us wherever we may find ourselves.
Sam is reflecting on this Sunday’s Gospel Luke 1:39-45