In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
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Poor Mary! One lot of Christians make a lot of fuss over her and just to show how different they are, other Christians virtually ignore her. Her name suggests religious feelings and even prejudices that have coloured her reputation through the years. Yet she comes across here and elsewhere as utterly admirable.
She would have been in her mid teens when she got the news she would give birth to a child even though she was a virgin. That is news enough for anyone. But considering the news came from an angel, this piece of news was even more significant. And the icing on the cake was that the child she would bear is the promised Messiah. No normal baby, but God incarnate.
We might wonder how Mary felt when told she was favoured. Giving birth as a virgin to the Son of God is undoubtedly an honour, but we suspect it is an honour that would not have her doing cartwheels of delight. Still, her reaction is one of supreme calm. She is God’s servant and will accept what comes. And all this from a very young woman.
Such was the means by which God made his entrance into human society. Not the normal sort of mother or the normal sort of birth. Then again, this was no normal child, no normal event. This was a birth which would generate much new birth. This new life growing in Mary’s womb was to bring new and everlasting life to many. And Mary was the human vessel by which salvation came to all. No wonder she is called blessed.