Advent 4 Year B 2017
Gospel of Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called
Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of
David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings,
favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not
be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive
in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 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. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and
of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be,
since I am a virgin?” 35 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. 36 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. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 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.
On this fourth Sunday in Advent we are introduced to Mary. She lived near
Nazareth in a region north of Jerusalem known as Galilee. Galilee was a
Palestinian province controlled by the ruthless army of the Roman Empire.
Mary was probably a young girl around the age of 13 or 14. Her Jewish
culture considered a girl to be a woman at the ripe old age of 12 years and one
month. Women of that age could wed and have children. Mary was already
promised to be married, mostly likely an arranged marriage. But the marriage had
not been consummated.
Mary would assume her purpose imposed by her culture: wed, care for her
husband, bear children and nurture them.
Mary was of the peasant class. She would assume accomplishing no great
acts of importance, maybe with one exception: tending the next generation of
Jewish men and women, that is, if she was lucky enough to have children and if the
children would be lucky enough to live to adulthood.
There was nothing unique about Mary. Rather, it was God’s favor upon her
that makes her extraordinary.
Luke’s Gospel tells the story of the Angel Gabriel appearing to Mary and
giving her the birth announcement. Can you imagine how frightened, confused
and joyful Mary would have been seeing the heavenly messenger and hearing the
God favored one of the lowliest persons within her culture. God chose Mary
to birth God’s special Son, Jesus. In doing so, God lifted up the lowly and sent the
rich away empty handed.
That’s the thing with God. While God loves everyone and everything God
creates, biblical texts report that God favors those people who are held-down by
unjust systems. God favors those people culture and those in power consider
unfavorable or unworthy. God turns everything upside-down.
This is good news to some, and not so good news to others.
But all people everywhere better get used to it. Because, as the Angel
Gabriel promised, the Holy Child of God “will reign over the house of Jacob
forever, and of his kingdom, (God’s kingdom), there will be no end.”
We’ve been warned by this magnificent promise. And with God, nothing is
impossible. So embrace the good news and sing out the Glorias.