I don’t know about you, but I’ve often wondered exactly what Mary was doing when Gabriel turned up that day. Of one thing I am sure – she didn’t expect what happened. The angel arrives and tells her that her whole life is about to turn completely upside down. Perplexed doesn’t begin to cut it for me!
She’s nothing special – and certainly doesn’t think of herself as anyone special – that’s why Gabriel’s greeting – “favoured one” – confuses her.
It gets worse from there on in – because what Gabriel has to tell her is big – life threatening – news; the punishment for being an unfaithful woman (and Mary was betrothed to Joseph – and being betrothed was as good as being married in Jewish society) was stoning. Mary is quick to protest her virtue.
She protests her innocence. I’m not sure she really understood it all – and I’m not sure that we do either. It’s one of those holy, mysterious, things that God does from time to time. So, in order to reassure her, Gabriel offers something that she can understand – her relative Elizabeth, who was thought to be far to old to ever have a baby is six months pregnant – God can do anything.
And that was enough for Mary – perhaps she had seen how despairing Elizabeth had become, just as likely she had heard her mother talk about the great sorrow visited upon Elizabeth and Zechariah in a society where children were seen a such a sign of God’s blessing (as they are today). With the clear sighted faith that characterises each of her appearances in the Gospel narratives, Mary says yes.
Just sometimes – it’s all a bit of a mystery to us. Life unravels at the seams – and all the certainties change. It certainly doesn’t seem to be anything we’ve done! Do we, I wonder, have the clear sighted faith to look around us and see God at work – and just say “yes” – no matter how perplexed we may be?