Sunday, December 21, 2014

4th Sunday in Advent - Luke 1:26-38 - "Not by Man"

“Let it be done unto me according to your word.”  

The Annunciation
This is Mary’s ‘Yes!’ to God.  This is her ‘Yes!’ to being the vessel for bringing God into the world to be one of us; living among us, sharing in our humanity.  We celebrate Mary’s ‘Yes!’ that opened us to God’s love and His gift of salvation for His people.

As much as we are thankful to God for His gift of eternal life, we are also thankful for Mary’s gift of ‘Yes!’ as it fulfilled the prophetic call that the Messiah would be born of a virgin: to come into the world to bring us all into God’s heavenly kingdom.  

But let us consider Mary’s other statement.  Her very human question of what seemed to her to be an impossibility, in response to the Angel’s announcement:

“How can this be, since I’ve had no relations with a man?”

What a very human response!  In our humanness and our human understanding of things, we would also ask the same question.  How is this possible?

While her question seems to only serve as a confirmation by Mary of her virginity, it really speaks more profoundly to us as a statement of God’s grace and His power to do what is impossible for man, but is possible for God.  It directs us to see that the world and all the things and all the creatures in it, come from God, and God alone.

In all the preparations for the coming of Jesus into the world, there was nothing that Mary did to earn the honor of being chosen as the Mother of God.  It was through God’s grace alone that Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin.  Nothing Mary’s parents, Saints Anne and Joachim, did that merited them the privilege of conceiving a daughter who was to be the new Eve, the Mother of God, the holy vessel of God’s love.  

God’s answer to this humble couple’s prayers, made because of their shame of childlessness, was to bless them with a daughter.  It was not their intention to be a part of God’s salvation plan for His people.  They were ordinary people; unremarkable villagers who only wanted to be like all the other families – blessed by God with children.

It is not the worldly, the powerful or the strong that are chosen by God to bring about His saving action in the world.  His grace is freely given to whomever He chooses.  God uses the meek and lowly, the weak and humble who, undeservingly, serve His plan of salvation: showing that the graces received come from Him alone and not through anything people have done to earn His love.  Mary, a child of ordinary people, was chosen by God, selected and named by Him, before she was even born. She was conceived, “full of grace,” to serve God’s plan.  

Mary, having no ‘relations with a man’ confirmations that it was God alone who graced her with His favor.  The conception of Jesus was entirely God’s holy action.  Man or woman played no part in it.  In Mary’s womb, God and man, Divine and human, came to be through God’s power and grace alone.  Mary was the holy vessel; serving God’s salvation plan, His love for His people, giving Jesus his humanity, so that He became one with us in all things except sin.  

On this fourth Sunday in Advent, during this time of waiting and expectation, as we celebrate the coming of Jesus, our Savior into the world through the cooperative ‘Yes!’ of the Virgin Mary, let us remember it is God alone who makes all things possible.

Through His grace alone God brings us everlasting life through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Let us reflect that it is by God’s holy desire and not by our own hand that we receive His love and gift of salvation.  
Through His grace alone, His complete and perfect love for His children, He takes away our sins, in the sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus Christ, so we may be gathered into His kingdom of heaven. 

We children of the Almighty, await in joyful hope for the day of fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to come again, so that all the righteous may come into the peace of the Father’s heavenly kingdom, where we will dwell forever and ever ~Amen.

Deacon Don

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