4th Sunday of Advent Year B - 20/12/2020 - Gospel: Lk 1: 26-38
The Annunciation
God took the initiative when God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary asking her to fulfil, what God had promised long ago, to rescue the human race from the power of sin and death. The sudden announcement troubled Mary greatly, since it wasn't part of her plan. Mary responded, 'How can this come about, since I am a virgin?v.35'. This was not the question of doubt or rejection, but rather a question of faith, and clarification. The angel told her, 'Nothing is impossible to God' v.37. God could create life, sustain life and exercise God's power over it. Mary seemed to say through her response, that her present plan was to be a single person, but would do whatever God asked of her. She fully had faith in God. She would choose to do God's will over her own. She believed God could do amazing things, that no one else could understand, but God alone. We humans had better place our trust in God, and that is what she chose to do. The angel went one step further confirming to her the amazing work God had done for her cousin, Elizabeth, whom people called 'barren'. God had removed this shame from her by giving her a child in her old age.

The angel explained, that God had chosen Mary for the Incarnation of  God's only Son. The Annunciation was to Mary, God had chosen her to be mother of God, but the most important message was about the birth of Jesus; Who was God Incarnate. He would rule His messianic kingdom with love, and mercy. He was the One, Whom John the Baptist once proclaimed, would baptise you with the Spirit and Fire (Mk 1,8). Mary couldn't fully understand the angel's message, and yet she responded not with reason, but with firm faith in God when she said, 'I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me' v.38. Saying 'yes' to the angel, Mary became mother of the Lord. She became a model of faith for all Jesus' disciples. She trusted God whole heartedly. She allowed God's grace to change her life once, and forever.

Betrothal in the ancient world was the initial part of marriage. There were rings and gifts exchanged, and parties between the two families, like we today do at engagement celebrations. The future bride will be the groom's wife in the months to come. Mary followed God's will with little understanding what that would involve, and yet she chose to do God's will, to be mother of the Lord, with both hope and fear. She won God's favour because of her humility and faith, as we heard from her song 'The Magnificat' 'My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit exults in God my saviour; because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid' Luke. 1,46'.  Hope and fear were parts of life. Mary lived in hope, and also was afraid of what sacrifices would be involved. Her new life would be challenged by something new, and sudden. She responded to her first surprise the Annunciation - by having faith in God. The angel told her: 'Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you v.28'. She knew the Lord was with her, she would certainly respond to new challenges with fervent faith.