Volume 1 No. 24 September 4, 2011
Nativity of St. Mary Special Edition If the Journal is not displayed properly, please click on the link below (or copy and paste) to read from web
Table of Contents
In this special edition of Malankara
World Journal, we have a treat for you.
Gunter masterfully presents one of the tenets of Christianity,
"Nothing is impossible with God." How many times we have struggled
with day to day problems and given up thinking something is
impossible? Jesus Christ said, "if you have faith as big as a
mustard seed, you can ask a mountain to move to the sea and it will
happen. One of the fascinating aspect of the story of Mary and the
annunciation is that she didn't disbelieve the angel like Zechariah
did when the angel announced the forthcoming child. Dr. Gunter mixes
scripture with personal experience to assure us that indeed nothing
is impossible to God. Please print the article 'The Possible
Impossible' and read it when Satan plants doubts in your mind.
The angel salutes Mary, "Hail Mary, Full of Grace". Pope John Paul examines this greeting and salutation. What does "full of grace" mean? Mary getting 'full of grace' is not due to any human merit but is wholly the result of God's wonderful work. "Everything in Mary derives from a sovereign grace. All that is granted to her is not due to any claim of merit but only to God's free and gratuitous choice." Mary was just an ordinary girl born in a non-descript village and had no claims to the "special status" accorded to her by the God. Mary's story tells us that God loves all of us. God invites us to share virgin Mary's humility and poverty, so that, after her example and through her intercession, we may persevere in the grace of God who sanctifies and transforms hearts. Another must read article.
St. Irenaeus in 185 AD compares Mary with Eve. Jesus is often compared to Adam and Mary is compared to Eve. Take a look. We will have more to say about this later.
More articles on Virgin Mary can be found in Malankara World Supplement on St.
by Dr. Dwight Gunter
Sermon Text: Luke 1:26-38
Lectionary Texts: Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44
Have you ever struggled with the impossible? Have you ever looked at situations in your life and said, "Impossible! No way! Won't happen!"?
Luke 1:26-38 is a story about the impossible. It is a story about the "no way" and the "won't happen." It is the story of the angel's announcement to Mary. When I say to you it is a story of impossibilities, I'm serious. There are several basic impossibilities in this story.
• A pregnant virgin having a child and remaining a virgin. Impossible! No way!
• To conceive and birth a child in her old age. Why, it is so impossible the news left old Zechariah speechless. Impossible! No way! Won't happen!
This is a story of biblical impossibilities. But, what are the impossibilities in our world? What would you label "impossible" in your life? Peace in our world. Impossible! No way! Won't happen! Christian values returning to our nation, morality becoming the norm? Impossible! Our church reaching our surrounding community and making our world different? Impossible! Restoring relationships, healing past hurts in our lives; a relative or friend entering a relationship with Christ; breaking an addiction and overcoming past hurts and disappointments? Impossible!
We find ourselves with the same troubled mind as Mary, wondering over the impossible (v. 29). We even ask the same question Mary asked, "How will this be?" (v. 34).
Impossible! No way! Won't happen! The question we're really asking is "How can the impossible become possible?"
The key is found in the language, in the word. This whole story is dripping with words and images of power:
Even in verse 28 the greeting of the angel, "the Lord is with you," is tied to Immanuel (Hebrew) from Isaiah (which was given in a power context). Powerful words flow through this situation.
And, it doesn't stop there. Mary goes to see Elizabeth. As soon as Mary greeted Elizabeth, Elizabeth's baby leaped within her. When she told Mary what happened Mary began to sing (what is known as the Magnificat, or the glories).
Look at the power phrases and images:
How can the impossible become possible? How will this be? Zoom in on Luke 1:35. "The power of the Most High" (the immediate force of the Godhead delivered by the Holy Spirit) will "overshadow" (envelop in a haze of brilliancy--the image of a cloud coming upon her). The image may even be linked to the cloud in Exodus 40:38, representing the presence and power of God. It reminds me of how God's Spirit hovered over the waters in creation, although it is a different word it has a similar feel.
How can the impossible become possible? The power of God is going to be released into the life of Mary and Elizabeth. God is going to act on their behalf. God is going to speak His name–-Son of the Most High--into their world. He is going to say the Word . . . "possible." When the Most High God says the Word, the impossible becomes possible. When this Most High God says the Word, the impossible becomes possible.
Another place the title, "Most High God," is found in the story of the demon-possessed man in Luke 8:26-39. When the man saw Jesus, he fell at his feet and shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don't torture me!" (v. 28). The very name the Most High connotes power. Even the forces of evil recognize the power of the Most High.
Mary asks, "how" and the angel says, "by God's power." Not by her power, not by Joseph's power, nor by the power of friends/family. It is not the power of nature or the power of luck, but by God's power!
Now zoom in on the very word "impossible" (v.37). The root word of "possible" is
the same word for power. Impossible comes from placing a negative prefix on the
word "possible," and essentially means without power, without the ability to
Then the angel says, "By the way, in case you didn't know; you wondered about it; you had questions; you had doubts; let me tell you, inform you, remind you, announce to you--nothing is impossible with God! He has all power and can do all things!" (v. 37).
Into our world of impossibilities, God the Most High gives the word for the day . . . "possible!"
So, into our world--our world of impossibilities--God the Most High gives the word for the day . . . possible! And, He gives us grace for the impossible. The angel comes with a message of grace. "Highly favored" means "to grace," to be the object of grace (v.28). It is also translated as "accepted" in Ephesians 1:6 (depending on the version used). We could not handle it or even receive the power of the Most High, were it not for grace. You see, we are objects of God's grace. And therefore, God gives us grace for the impossible situations we face.
But, there is one more component we can't afford to miss. Zoom in on Luke 1:38, "I am the Lord's servant . . . . May it be to me as you have said." I must be a willing and surrendered participant.
When God's power is met with a willing and surrendered heart, the impossible becomes possible! "I am the Lord's servant . . . . May it be to me as you have said." That is to say, "Let the power of God turn the impossible into the possible. I am surrendered and I am willing."
And now for the rest of the impossible stories.
So I ask you this morning: What are the impossibilities in your world? What are the things that make you say: Impossible! No way! Won't happen!
The angel said, "Nothing is impossible with God!" Take a piece of paper and write your impossible prayer request. You can: Bring it to the altar to pray about it if you'd like. I want you to also put it in your Bible and watch God over time turn the impossible into possible by His power.
Are you willing to respond to God's power with a willing and surrendered heart? Are you willing to participate with God as He intervenes in the world of the impossible?
Bring your impossibilities to God and let Him speak His name: Son of the Most High.
Source: Preacher's Magazine, 2007
by Pope John Paul II
1. In the account of the Annunciation, the first word of the Angel's greeting, "Rejoice", is an invitation to joy which recalls the oracles of the Old Testament addressed to the "daughter of Zion". We pointed this out in our previous catecheses and also explained the reasons for this invitation: God's presence among his people, the coming of the messianic king and maternal fruitfulness. These reasons are fulfilled in Mary.
The Angel Gabriel, addressing the Virgin of Nazareth after the greeting, chaire, "rejoice", calls her kecharitomene, "full of grace". The words of the Greek text, chaire and kecharitomene are deeply interconnected: Mary is invited to rejoice primarily because God loves her and has filled her with grace in view of her divine motherhood!
The Church's faith and the experience of the saints teach us that grace is a source of joy, and that true joy comes from God. In Mary, as in Christians, the divine gift produces deep joy.
2. Kecharitomene: this term addressed to Mary seems to be the proper way to describe the woman destined to become the mother of Jesus. Lumen gentium appropriately recalls this when it affirms: "The Virgin of Nazareth is hailed by the heralding angel, by divine command, as 'full of grace'" (Lumen gentium, n. 56).
The fact that the heavenly messenger addresses her in this way enhances the value of the angelic greeting: it is a manifestation of God's mysterious saving plan in Mary's regard. As I wrote in the Encyclical Redemptoris Mater:
"'The fullness of grace' indicates all the supernatural munificence from which Mary benefits by being chosen and destined to be the Mother of Christ” (n. 9).
God granted Mary the fullness of grace
"Full of grace" is the name Mary possesses in the eyes of God. Indeed, the angel, according to the Evangelist Luke's account, uses this expression even before he speaks the name "Mary", and thus emphasizes the predominant aspect which the Lord perceived in the Virgin of Nazareth's personality.
The expression "full of grace" is the translation of the Greek word kecharitomene, which is a passive participle. Therefore to render more exactly the nuance of the Greek word one should not say merely "full of grace", but "made full of grace", or even "filled with grace", which would clearly indicate that this was a gift given by God to the Blessed Virgin. This term, in the form of a perfect participle, enhances the image of a perfect and lasting grace which implies fullness. The same verb, in the sense of "to bestow grace", is used in the Letter to the Ephesians to indicate the abundance of grace granted to us by the Father in his beloved Son (Eph 1:6) and which Mary receives as the first fruits of Redemption (cf. Redemptoris Mater, n. 10).
3. In the Virgin's case, God's action certainly seems surprising. Mary has no human claim to receiving the announcement of the Messiah's coming. She is not the high priest, official representative of the Hebrew religion, nor even a man, but a young woman without any influence in the society of her time. In addition, she is a native of Nazareth, a village which is never mentioned in the Old Testament. It must not have enjoyed a good reputation, as Nathanael's question recorded in John's Gospel makes clear: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (Jn 1:46).
The extraordinary and gratuitous nature of God's intervention becomes even clearer in comparison with Luke's text which recounts what happened to Zechariah. The latter's priestly status is highlighted as well as his exemplary life which make him and his wife Elizabeth models of Old Testament righteousness: they walked "blameless in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord" (Lk 1:6).
But we are not informed of Mary's origins either: the expression "of the house of David" (Lk 1:27) in fact refers only to Joseph. No mention is made then of Mary's behaviour. With this literary choice, Luke stresses that everything in Mary derives from a sovereign grace. All that is granted to her is not due to any claim of merit, but only to God's free and gratuitous choice.
God's mercy reaches the highest degree in Mary
4. In so doing, the Evangelist does not, of course, intend to downplay the outstanding personal value of the Blessed Virgin. Rather, he wishes to present Mary as the pure fruit of God's goodwill: he has so taken possession of her as to make her, according to the title used by the Angel, "full of grace". The abundance of grace itself is the basis of Mary's hidden spiritual richness.
In the Old Testament, Yahweh expresses the superabundance of his love in many ways and on many occasions. At the dawn of the New Testament, the gratuitousness of God's mercy reaches the highest degree in Mary. In her, God's predilection, shown to the chosen people and in particular to the humble and the poor, reaches its culmination.
Nourished by the Word of the Lord and the experience of the saints, the Church urges believers to keep their gaze fixed on the Mother of the Redeemer and to consider themselves, like her, loved by God. She invites them to share Our Lady's humility and poverty, so that, after her example and through her intercession, they may persevere in the grace of God who sanctifies and transforms hearts.
Source: General Audience of Pope John Paul II on Wednesday, 8 May 1996. This was the 19th lecture on the Blessed Virgin given by pope. Here the pope examines the meaning of the title "full of grace" that Mary was given by the angel at the Annunciation.
by St. Irenaeus
A comparison is instituted between the disobedient and sinning Eve and the Virgin Mary, her patroness.
1. That the Lord then was manifestly coming to His own things, and was sustaining them by means of that creation which is supported by Himself, and was making a recapitulation of that disobedience which had occurred in connection with a tree, through the obedience which was [exhibited by Himself when He hung] upon a tree, [the effects] also of that deception being done away with, by which that virgin Eve, who was already espoused to a man, was unhappily misled—was happily announced, through means of the truth [spoken] by the angel to the Virgin Mary, who was [also espoused] to a man.
For just as the former was led astray by the word of an angel, so that she fled from God when she had transgressed His word; so did the latter, by an angelic communication, receive the glad tidings that she should sustain (portaret) God, being obedient to His word. And if the former did disobey God, yet the latter was persuaded to be obedient to God, in order that the Virgin Mary might become the patroness (advocata) of the virgin Eve.
And thus, as the human race fell into bondage to death by means of a virgin, so is it rescued by a virgin; virginal disobedience having been balanced in the opposite scale by virginal obedience. For in the same way the sin of the first created man (protoplasti) receives amendment by the correction of the First-begotten, and the coming of the serpent is conquered by the harmlessness of the dove, those bonds being unloosed by which we had been fast bound to death.
Source: Against Heresies (Book V, Chapter 19), 185 AD by St. Irenaeus
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