In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 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.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
The readings today offer clear examples in well-known stories of evil and good in our world. Adam and Eve’s choices break their relationship with God, allowing evil into the world. In the Annunciation story, Gabriel announces Mary as “full of grace, blessed among women, filled with the Spirit.” God’s action through the Spirit results in the birth of Jesus, by whose death is our salvation.
Today celebrates Mary as conceived without sin, blessed from her conception. Today does not celebrate an impending birth. Today celebrates she who was chosen, long before she was asked, to cooperate in a most unexpected and special way with the workings of God and the Spirit. Today is that reminder that we too have been chosen to receive these same gifts of spirit and love, in spite of our brokenness through sin. Today we ponder and remember that nothing is impossible with God.
—Mary Burke-Peterson is a parishioner at St. Nicholas Church, Evanston, an active volunteer in the Ignatian Spirituality Project, and a graduate student at Institute for Pastoral Studies at Loyola University.
Life-giving God, trace in our actions the lines of Mary’s love,
in our hearts her readiness of faith.
Strengthen my trust that, with your grace,
nothing is impossible. Amen.
—the Jesuit prayer team