Sunday (December 24): "Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!"

Meditation: Does the proclamation of the Gospel message fill you with joy and hope? When the Lord comes to redeem his people he fills us with his Holy Spirit, the source of our joy and hope in the promises of God  When God made a covenant with David as King over Israel he made a promise to David and to his descendants that David's dynasty would endure forever through the coming of the Messiah King (2 Samuel 7:16). This King would establish an everlasting kingdom of peace and security for his people. We often think of peace as the absence of trouble. The peace which the Messiah brings cancels the debt of sin and restores our broken relationship with God our heavenly Father. The new era of salvation begins with the conception and birth of Jesus
We see the fulfillment of God's unfolding plan of redemption in the events leading up to the Incarnation, the birth of the Messiah King. The new era of salvation begins with the miraculous conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary. This child to be born is conceived by the gracious action of the Holy Spirit upon Mary, who finds favor with God (Luke 1:28).  This child will be "great" and "Son of the Most High" and "King," and his name shall be called "Jesus" (Luke 1:31-32), which means "the Lord saves." "He will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). The angel repeats to Mary, the daughter of the house of David, the promise made to King David: "The Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end" (2 Samuel 7:12-16, Isaiah 9:6-7, Luke 1:32-33).

Mary is a true hearer of the Word of God
How does Mary respond to the word of God delivered by the angel Gabriel? She knows she is hearing something beyond human capability. It will surely take a miracle which surpasses all that God has done previously. Her question, "how shall this be, since I have no husband" is not prompted by doubt or skepticism, but by wonderment! She is a true hearer of the Word and she immediately responds with faith and trust.

Mary's prompt response of "yes" to the divine message is a model of faith for all believers. Mary believed God's promises even when they seemed impossible. She was full of grace because she trusted that what God said was true and would be fulfilled. She was willing and eager to do God's will, even if it seemed difficult or costly. Mary is the "mother of God" because God becomes incarnate when he takes on flesh in her womb.  When we pray the Nicene Creed we state our confession of faith in this great mystery: "For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man".

God gives us the grace to say "yes" to his will and to his transforming work in our lives
What is the key that unlocks the power and grace of God’s kingdom in our personal lives? Faith and obedience for sure! God gives us grace and he expects us to respond with the same willing obedience and heartfelt trust as Mary did. When God commands he also gives the help and means to respond. We can either yield to his grace or resist and go our own way. Do you believe in God's promises and do you yield to his grace?

"Heavenly Father, you offer us abundant grace, mercy, and forgiveness through your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Help me to live a grace-filled life as Mary did by believing in your promises and by giving you my unqualified 'yes' to your will and plan for my life."


This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/