Scripture: Luke 1:26-38 (alternate reading: Matthew 11:11-15)
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” 35 And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. 36 And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Old Testament Reading: Genesis 3:9-15,20
9 But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I ate.” 14 The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” 20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.
Meditation: Do you want to live a grace-filled life? The angel Gabriel salutes Mary as “full of grace”. To become the mother of the Savior, Mary was enriched by God with gifts to enable her to assume this awesome role. There is a venerable tradition among many Christians, dating back to the early church, for honoring Mary as the spotless virgin who bore the Son of God in her womb. A number of early church fathers link Mary’s obedience to this singular grace of God. “Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race… The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith” (from Adv. haeres 3.22.4, by Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, 130-200 AD).
Faith is the key that unlocks the power of God’s kingdom in our lives
What is the key that can unlock the power and grace of God’s kingdom in our personal lives? Faith and obedience for sure! When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they immediately experienced the consequence of their action – separation from the God who loved them. God in his mercy promised them a Redeemer who would pay the price for their sin and the sin of the world. We see the marvelous unfolding of God’s plan of redemption in the events leading up to the Incarnation, the birth of the Messiah. Mary’s prompt response of “yes” to the divine message is a model of faith for all believers. Mary believed God’s promises even when they seemed impossible. She was full of grace because she trusted that what God said was true and would be fulfilled. She was willing and eager to do God’s will, even if it seemed difficult or costly.
God gives us the grace to say “yes” to his will and to his transforming work in our lives
God gives us grace and he expects us to respond with the same willingness, obedience, and heart-felt trust as Mary did. When God commands he also gives the grace, strength, and means to respond. We can either yield to his grace or resist and go our own way. Do you believe in God’s promises and do you yield to his grace?
“Heavenly Father, you offer us abundant grace, mercy, and forgiveness through your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Help me to live a grace-filled life as Mary did by believing in your promises and by giving you my unqualified “yes” to your will and to your plan for my life.”
1 O sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory.
2 The LORD has made known his victory, he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
4 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: God borrows Mary’s flesh to lead humanity to glory, by an anonymous early author from the Greek church
“Revealing to you the pre-eternal counsel, Gabriel came and stood before you, maid, and in greeting said, ‘Rejoice, earth that has not been sown; rejoice, burning bush that remains unconsumed; Rejoice, unsearchable depth; Rejoice, bridge that leads to heaven; Rejoice, ladder raised on high that Jacob saw; Rejoice, divine jar of manna; Rejoice, deliverance from the curse; Rejoice, restoration of Adam, the Lord is with you!’
“‘You appeared to me in the form of a man,’ said the undefiled maid to the chief of the heavenly hosts. ‘How then do you speak to me of things that pass human power? For you have said that God shall be with me and shall take up his dwelling in my womb. How shall I become the spacious habitation and the holy place of him that rides upon the cherubim? (Psalm 18:10) Do not amuse me with deceit; for I have not known pleasure, I have not entered into wedlock. How then shall I bear a child?’
“Then the bodiless angel replied, ‘When God so wills, the order of nature is overcome, and what is beyond humankind comes to pass. Believe that my sayings are true, all-holy and immaculate lady.’ And she cried aloud, ‘Let it be to me according to your word, and I shall bear him that is without flesh, who shall borrow flesh from me, that through this mingling he may lead humankind up to his ancient glory, for he alone has power so to do!'”(excerpt from STICHERA OF THE ANNUNCIATION)
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