Wednesday, August 22, 2018
1) Opening prayer
God our Father,
may we love You in all things and above all things
and reach the joy You have prepared for us
beyond all our imagining.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, 11 and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God." Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
• Today is the Feast of the Queenship of Mary. The text of the Gospel on which we meditate describes the visit of the angel to Mary (Lk 1:26-38). The word of God comes to Mary not through a biblical text, but rather through a profound experience of God, manifested in the visit of the angel. In the New Testament, often the Angel of God is God Himself. It was thanks to the meditation on the written Word of God in the bible that Mary was able to recognize the living Word of God in the visit of the angel. The same thing happens today with God’s visits in our life. The visits of God are frequent, but due to a lack of assimilation and meditation of the written Word of God in the bible, we are not aware of God’s visit in our life. God’s visit is so present and so continuous that, many times, we do not perceive it and, because of this, we lose a great opportunity to live in peace and with joy.
• Luke 1:26-27: The word enters into our life. Luke presents the people and the places: a virgin called Mary, betrothed to a man called Joseph, of the House of David.
Nazareth was a small city in Galilee. Galilee was on the periphery. The center was Judah and Jerusalem. The angel Gabriel was sent by God to this young virgin who lived on the periphery. The name Gabriel means God is strong. The name Mary means loved by Yahweh or Yahweh is my Lord.
The story of God’s visit to Mary begins with the expression “In the sixth month.” It refers to the “sixth month” of the pregnancy of Elizabeth, a relative of Mary: a woman of a certain age, who needs help. Elizabeth’s concrete need serves as a background to the whole episode. It is found at the beginning (Lk 1:26) and at the end (Lk 1:36, 39).
• Luke 1:28-29: Mary’s reaction. The angel had appeared to Zechariah in the temple. The angel appears to Mary in her house. The Word of God reaches Mary in the environment of her daily life. The angel says, “Rejoice, you who enjoy God’s favor! The Lord is with you!” These are words similar to those which were said to Moses (Ex 3:12), to Jeremiah (Jer 1:8), to Gideon (Judg 6:12), to Ruth (Ruth 2:4) and to many others. These words open the horizon for the mission which these people of the Old Testament had to carry out in the service of the people of God. Deeply disturbed by this greeting, Mary tries to understand what it means. She is realistic; she uses her head. She wants to understand. She does not simply accept any apparition or inspiration.
• Luke 1:30-33: The angel’s explanation. “Do not be afraid, Mary!” This is always the first greeting of God to human beings: do not be afraid! Immediately after that, the angel recalls the great promises of the past which will be realized through the son who will be born from Mary. This son must receive the name of Jesus. He will be called the son of the Most High and in Him, finally, the Kingdom of God promised to David, which all were anxiously awaiting, will be realized. This is the explanation which the angel gave to Mary so that she would not be afraid.
• Luke 1:34: New question asked by Mary. Mary becomes aware of the important mission which she is about to receive, but she continues to be realistic. She does not allow herself to be transported by the greatness of the offer and looks at her condition. “But how can this come about? I have no knowledge of man.” She analyses the offer according to criteria that we, human beings, have available. Because, humanly speaking, it was not possible that this offer of the Word of God would be realized at that moment.
• Luke 1:35-37: New explanation by the angel. "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God.” The Holy Spirit, present in God’s Word since Creation (Gen 1:2), can realize things which seem impossible. This is why the holy One who will be born of Mary will be called Son of God. When today God’s Word is received, accepted by the poor who have no education, something new takes place thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit! Something new and surprising like the son who is born to a virgin or like the son born from Elizabeth, a woman who was already old, of whom everyone said that she could have no children! The angel adds, “And I tell you this too, your cousin Elizabeth is now in her sixth month!”
• Luke 1:38: Mary gives herself. The angel’s response clarifies everything for Mary. She gives herself to what the angel was asking: “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord! May it be done to me according to your word.” Mary calls herself servant, handmaid of the Lord. This title comes from Isaiah, who presents the mission of the people not as a privilege, but rather as a service to others (Isa 42:1-9; 49:3-6). Later, the son who was about to be generated at that moment, will define His mission saying, “I have not come to be served, but to serve!” (Mt 20:28). He learns from His mother!
• Luke 1:39: The way that Mary finds to render service. The Word of God reaches Mary and makes her come out of herself in order to serve others. She leaves the place where she was and goes to Judah, at a distance of more than four days journey, in order to help her cousin Elizabeth. Mary begins serving and fulfills her mission on behalf of the People of God.
4) Personal questions
• How do you perceive God’s visit in your life? Have you been visited already? Have you been a visit from God in the life of others, especially for the poor? How does this text help us to recognize God’s visits in our lives?
• The word of God became incarnate in Mary. How is the Word of God taking flesh in my personal life and in the life of the community?
5) Concluding Prayer
Let them thank Yahweh for His faithful love,
for His wonders for the children of Adam!
He has fed the hungry to their hearts' content,
filled the starving with good things. (Ps 107:8-9)