I suppose that’s not surprising considering the number of newborns in my life. My sister-in-law had her first November 24. A friend delivered her first on November 30. My other sister-in-law is delivering her third today, and my next-door neighbor is due with her second next week.
At the Feast of the Immaculate Conception yesterday, the Gospel of Luke told us that the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and said, “Hail, full of Grace. The Lord is with you.” And then the angel told her that she would conceive and bear a son, who will be called Son of the Most High.
I thought about the Christmas morning 12 years ago when I discovered I was pregnant with my first child. There was an incredible simultaneous mixture of happiness and fear. I’d never noticed it before, but the Gospel says that when the angel first appeared Mary “was greatly troubled.” In his homily, Father Mathew pointed out that Mary, raised in the Jewish faith, knew God as a distant God; that in her faith if you saw the face of God you would die. So it’s not surprising that she would be troubled, not only by the idea of conceiving while a virgin – with many personal challenges ahead of her, but also that her child would be a living embodiment of God! Are the words “greatly troubled” sufficient to describe what she must have felt?
And yet, Mary answered the angel’s proclamation with, “May it be done to me according to your word.” With those words she fully accepted the will of God, demonstrating her willingness to be an example of truth faith.
Of course, now we recognize that God chose Mary to play this role even before her own birth, allowing her to be born sinless, while we are freed from original sin at our baptism.
But God choses us to do something for Him in our own lives. He calls us to do His will. We must only learn to listen and hear Him above all the noise. It’s very unlikely that the angel Gabriel will miraculously proclaim our way. Instead, we must find our own faith journey, learning to trust and believe in His mercy through both the testing times as well as the blessed times. Let Mary’s display of faith and willingness be an example for us to follow in our own lives.