12 Days of Christmas Reflection Series – Day 2
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
For the unbelievers, the whole story of the conception and the birth of Jesus is highly questionable and unbelievable. Even if the writer of the Gospel of Luke included proof to Mary that God indeed can do all things or anything by presenting the pregnancy of Elizabeth to John, it still does not work. It is all a made-up story to prove that Jesus is a descendant of David, the king of good reputation in Israel. The Messiah, the coming king, and savior of Israel hoped for by the people will be a descendant of King David. But even the lineage of Jesus to David here is not established because this story of Mary’s conception disproved it. Joseph, the descendant of David has nothing to do with Jesus. This is in fact the downside of this story.
For the believers, this story is all out true. They never ask some critical questions about pregnancy. The fanatics, even are afraid to ask about it as it could be offensive to the faith, if not to God. For the Church, the greatest miracle is when God himself took the nature of men, took the flesh of man in Jesus the Christ in the womb of Mary, a virgin betrothed but untouched by Joseph who is portrayed in the story as a good man.
I am sorry to disappoint you, but I will not be presenting here proof about the truth of the story or otherwise. I am more concerned about the believers being like Mary in the story who did prove her faith.
“I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled” was the acceptance statement of Mary. She was troubled already troubled by the angel’s greetings and of course the angel’s appearance. It must not be common for people to see and even visit by an angel (of the Lord). After that scene with the angel, she must have been more troubled and anxious about many things about her pregnancy.
Her first problem is about Joseph, but which is already resolved by the same angel. But still, she must be troubled by this with Joseph’s family and the people around her. Remember the woman who, without Jesus, could have been stoned to death by the people for being a sinner? A woman in Israel, at least in Jesus’ time, is a lowly creature and is easily punished when suspected of committing a sin, especially on adultery much more on this case of getting pregnant without being touched by her fiancé, Joseph. She could be suspected of being in bed with another man secretly.
Should the words of the angel have appeased her? That her child would be the King on the throne of David that was lost a long time ago? It could be. But no, it was not that easy. Nazareth is a poor people’s town. Mary must be one of those poor girls in town too. Having a king from the poor or even the mention of a king that save them from their situation is tantamount to treason and rebellion against the incumbent king of Galilee and Caezar of Rome.
It was not easy for Mary, but she accepted it and even marveled for the angel’s word to be fulfilled.
How about us? How about you as a believer? Have you ever been proved your faith in God? Have you been, in a troubled and difficult situation proven your faith as Mary did?
Let us try to examine ourselves truly and honestly. Do we even have a faith, or we are just religious people who belong to a church but cannot live the faith during difficult times and choose our own ways? Worst, we still believe and continue to claim a believer and even boost about it without being true to it.
Hamburg, 26 December 2021 – the Second Day of Christmas