THROUGH THE CENTURIES God kept His promise of a Redeemer before the minds of men by means of His prophets: Malachias (Malachi), Daniel, Micheas (Micah), Isaias (Isaiah), Osee (Hosea). The Jewish people were familiar with their prophecies and eagerly awaited the fulfillment of their words. Anticipation deepened as the time drew near.
In the little town of Nazareth, hidden away in Galilee, the northern part of Palestine, lived the young girl destined to be the virgin mother of the Messiah. She was Mary, a maiden of about thirteen years, the only child of Joachim and Anne. Her betrothed was Joseph, one of her countrymen, a lowly artisan but a member of the royal race of David, from which she, too, was sprung.
At the divinely decreed hour, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, greeting her: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.” Mary pondered the meaning of this greeting and was troubled by it. Gabriel hastened to reassure her with the words: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus.”
Mary did not doubt that the angel’s words would be fulfilled, but inquired how this would be accomplished since she had resolved to remain a virgin. “How shall this happen, since I do not know man?” The angel responded, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee; and therefore the Holy One to be born shall be called the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth thy kinswoman also has conceived a son in her old age, and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month; for nothing shall be impossible with God.”
And Our Lady answered, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” And Gabriel departed.
At that moment God became incarnate and took up His abode with men. Prophecies became realities. The work of redemption had begun.
Meditation: For centuries men had been waiting for the Incarnation. This event was the central event of all history. Yet God made its accomplishment depend upon the consent of Mary. He did not order her to become the mother of God; He asked her. Similarly, in dealing with us, God usually asks. He orders us to obey His and His Church’s commandments, but He asks much more than that. Will we agree like Mary, or will we do only what is ordered?
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 3-4. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, MA following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM. NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.