For the 4 Sundays of Advent this year, I’m focusing on Luke chapter one up until Mary’s Song. Last week, we looked at Zechariah. This week, Mary. Third week, Elizabeth. And then we’ll conclude our Advent reflections with Mary’s Song.
Mary: Questions Energize Faith
Read: Luke 1: 26 – 38
Gabriel’s visit to Mary finds her in the liminal space between being the property of her father and the property of her husband. She is used to not quite feeling like her own person where her agency does not have primacy. So when this young one hears the greeting that extols her as highly favoured, she hardly knows what to do with it.
Mary has no particular position, or power, or privilege.
Like with Zechariah, Gabriel invites Mary into a place where fear no longer holds sway. Unlike Zechariah, Mary seems to take these words to heart. She asks a bold question for a girl of her status who has just been informed that she will be impregnated. “How will this be since I am a virgin?” Mary, her mind racing, puts together “highly favoured” with “not being afraid” and asserts the one trump card she has.
In contrast to Zechariah, Mary’s question doesn’t emerge from unbelief. Her question exhibits the faith that this angel is actually bringing her good news. Good news doesn’t dishonour. Good news doesn’t bring shame. Good news doesn’t bring family rejection. Good news doesn’t make one an outcast.
Gabriel doesn’t disappoint. They assure Mary that her honour will not only remain intact – it will increase. And they conclude with this affirmation, “For no word from God will ever fail.”
It is in light of this assurance that Mary stands up in the fullness of her personhood and gives her consent. It is the strength of Mary’s faith, not mere capitulation to patriarchal expectation, that makes this utterance: “May your word to me be fulfilled.”
In what ways have you experienced God’s affirmation of your honour and dignity as a person? In what ways might fear be holding you back from asserting the fullness of your personhood?
God, assure us today that our humanity matters to you. Bestow upon us dignity and honour. And may we find renewed faith in believing. Amen.