by Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas Valiyaparambil
Next Sunday marks the celebration of the announcement by arch-angel Gabriel to St. Mary that she would become the mother of Jesus, son of God. The gospel reading is from Luke 1: 26-38
Gospel Reading: The Birth of Jesus is Foretold
(Luke 1:26-38) "26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." 34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" 35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be calleda] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God." 38 "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.
Six months after the conception of John the Baptist by Elizabeth, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to the Virgin Mary of Nazareth, a small town in the land of Galilee. Mary was a descendant of King David. She was engaged to Joseph who was also of the same royal line of decent. Although engaged, she had not entered the household of Joseph. She was still living at her parent's home.
One day, God's messenger arch-angel Gabriel came to her house and said: "Greetings to you, favored one. The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will give birth to a son."
How could this happen to me since I am a virgin?" Mary asked the angel. The angel said to her: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Mary was a woman of unwavering faith in God. She replied, "Yes, Lord, I will do it." She accepted the challenge without thinking the rumors and stares that would follow her for the next 30 years. She knew the cost, but was willing to pay the price. Mary's heart was completely devoted to him and that's why God chose her for the birth of his son in her.
In the eyes of God, Mary was the right person to take the task of raising God's son. Her life and character helped her to raise the most influential man in human history. Mary played a key role in preparing Jesus for his ministry in his later life.
Some qualities distinguished her from others at the time were:
1. Mother of Humility:
Mother Mary who among the humble was the most humble no one could surpass in humility. Her husband Joseph permitted her to exercise her humility and both enabled to make their will to God by exercising the deepest humility and obedience in all her acts. Mary's song in verses 46-47 reads, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he as been mindful of the most humble state of this servant."
2. Mother of Obedience:
Following Gabriel's announcement, Mary had a simple inquiry. "How shall this be without knowing a man?". The angel answered, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee." From this messenger she learned that she was going to be mother of the son of God.
After receiving the message from the anger, Mary in unreserved obedience replied, "Be it unto me according to thy word." (Luke 1:38)
In humbly accepting angels words, Mary exemplified the quality of obedience.
3. Mother of Devotion:
Mary was a mother of great devotion. Whereas Mary was engaged to Joseph, the Angel appeared to her and said she will conceive in her womb and bear a son. There Mary said, "May it be doe to me according to your word."
Mary had the unwavering devotion to God. There was no hesitation in her mind. God knew that she was completely devoted to Him and also would be devoted to the task of raising the young messiah.
4. Mother of Strength:
Mary was a mother of strength. When the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and asked him to take his wife and child to Egypt, it took a lot of physical strength for a woman to make a trip like that to a country far removed from her family and relatives. Her emotional strength motivated her to leave because someone wanted to kill her baby. It happened because she was a person of great physical and emotional strength.
5. Mother of Guidance:
At the wedding in Cana, when the wine ran out, Mary approached Jesus knowing that he would resolve the issue. Jesus was re reluctant to get involved. Mary then properly guided Jesus by saying, "May be it is not time for you to die, but it is time for people begin to understand who you are." Mary pushed him in the right direction. She had the unique gift of guiding Jesus until God's purpose was realized.
6. Mother of Patience:
Mary was devoted to God. She had great strength. She guided Jesus into his ministry. She also had great patience. Her devotion, strength and guidance had helped her become a women of great patience in seeing the mission of Jesus is finished on the cross
Mary's heart was pierced many times because of her love for her son. When she had to flee to Egypt because King Herod sought her son's life, and when at the age of 12, she frantically looked for Jesus for 3 days not knowing where he was, and when Jesus' own family had rejected him later in life and didn't want anything to do with him, must have all these caused her to suffer a great deal. Also on that dark Friday, Mary watched his son beaten up, stripped, mocked, and killed, and she was there to feel her heart was being pierced into so severely.
From Mary's experience, we may also learn that our own devotion to our children may not be an easy path either. The road could become mighty hazardous and difficult. We could have our heart also pierced by the things that can happen to our children when they are hurt, when they are sick, when they are betrayed, or may even they die, our hearts will be pierced. They may live a life that goes against all that we believe in and hold dear, or even may reject us. If that happens, our hearts will be pierced very severely.
Like Mary, let our love and devotion to our children be unwavering. Let's hope and pray that God will look after us with the same fervor as he looked upon Mary. If we have the proper perspective, a solid foundation in God the creator and an unrelenting love and devotion to our children, God will take care of the rest for us.
Devotional Thoughts for the Sunday of Annunciation to St. Mary
by Jose Kurian Puliyeril
Annunciation to St. Mary
by Rev. Fr. Happy Jacob
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