And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “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 holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. Luke 1:28-38
I guess I’m not like most other people in that I’m not impressed that God can perform miracles. In my mind what we consider miraculous is just everyday humdrum for someone who is capable of bringing about such things. This is why I think I am always surprised when such a powerful God is so kind and considerate. It never ceases to amaze that this God who can bring about everything would be so considerate of people’s feelings. What always pops out at me in this reading is when Gabriel tells the Blessed Virgin Mary that Elizabeth is pregnant.
For one reason, it seems so out of place. Gabriel has just delivered the news of the century when he tells Mary she is going to be the mother of the long-awaited and -hoped for Messiah. This is the greatest thing to ever happen to the Jewish people and she is going to be the one it happens through. Gabriel follows this momentous news with something that, in my mind, goes like this, “Btw, your cousin is pregnant.”
One possibility is that Gabriel could be trying to reassure her that “nothing will be impossible with God.” But the Virgin Mary seems more confused about the mechanics of how it is going to come about rather than doubting that God can bring it about, so I don’t think that’s it. Another possibility is that Gabriel is informing her that there is another person out there who is also experiencing a miraculous pregnancy, so she would have someone to share this joyous news with.
Can you imagine her trying to tell the people of Nazareth that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit? Who would have believed her? For Joseph to believe God had to send him a dream and explain to him how it came about (Mt 1:20) and he was a righteous man. Can you imagine what the unrighteous would have thought? I say not much as we already know from a later scripture that the people of Nazareth did not think that highly of any of the family when it came to religion:
He came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? Matthew 13:53-55
If they had thought highly of the family, especially the holiness of the Blessed Virgin Mary, then I don’t think they would have been so “astounded” at the teachings of Christ. They would have expected at least “wisdom,” if not “deeds of power” rather than taking offense at him (Mt 13:57).
But let’s say there was someone who believed her, such as Joseph. Sharing something with someone who believes you is not the same as sharing it with someone that can relate to you because they are undergoing or have undergone a similar experience. Imagine having a joy that no one around you understands, so there is no one with which you can share it with. How lonely and isolated she must have felt. If the lives of the saints are anything to go by, then I think she was probably having a rough time of it. Rather than leave her alone I think that God let her know that her cousin Elizabeth was pregnant. And with the help of the Holy Spirit Elizabeth knows exactly what is going on when she hears the Virgin Mary: she knows the Virgin Mary is pregnant and she knows how it came about.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” Luke 1:41-45
This is the recognition that the Virgin Mary needed. Now she could openly and freely share her joy at the great things God had done for her. The Magnificat seems to practically burst from her lips. I don’t know that I’ve read any other passages in the Bible where two people are so filled with so much wonder and joy: all because of the kind consideration of God.
May we all recognize the kindness of God! God bless!