Luke’s Nativity: December 19

Then, in Elizabeth’s sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God into a city of Galilee called Nazareth.  Gabriel was sent to a young woman who was engaged.  They guy’s name was Joseph.  He was from the house of David.  The name of the young woman was Mariam.

When the angel got to her, it said, “Greetings, grace-filled Mariam.  The Lord is with you.”  And she was so startled by the noise.  She thought to herself: what kind of greeting might this be? And the angel said to her,

“Don’t fear. For you found grace with God.

Behold, there’s going to be a conception in your womb.  And you will carry a child full term.  And you will call him Jesus.

And this child will be historic.  He will be called Son of the Most High.  And the Lord God will give the throne of his Father David to him.  He will rule over the house of Jacob for eternity. And the age of his rule will have no end.”

And Mariam said to the angel: “How will this be, since I am not – you know – active with a man.“

And in response, the angel said two things to her.

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you.  You will catch a portion of the Almighty’s shadow and its most-high power.   And therefore the holy child will be called the Son of God.

And if you want a further sign, your cousin Elizabeth also conceived her son in her belly. The one who was called barren is six months along.  With every word, nothing is impossible for God.”

And Mariam said, “if you want a sign: ‘I am the servant of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.’”

And the angel left her.

::Notes::

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“He, truly, is great.  Far and wide spreads the power of God.  Far and wide extends the magnitude of the heavenly substance.  For the Trinity, there is no term, no limit, no measure, no dimension…Contemplate the sky, Jesus is there; look upon the earth, Jesus is there.  By means of the Word ascend into Heaven, by means of the Word descend into Hell, Jesus is there.  Today, as I speak to you, He is with me.  He is with me at this instant, at this moment. And if, at this moment, there is a Christian speaking in Armenia, Jesus is there, for ‘no-one says that Jesus is Lord, if not through the Holy Spirit’ (1 Co 12.13)…

“One might at first glance, think that Mary lacked faith, but take very careful note of what she says.  For one thing, it is quite out of the question that one who is lacking in faith would be chosen as Mother of the only Son of God.  True, a Mother’s prerogative is unique, and to a Mother the very highest honor is due.  Nonetheless, if her prerogative is very great, so too should her faith be very great.  How come, then, that Zachary was condemned to silence for his unbelief, and Mary – supposing that she had not believed – would nevertheless receive the honor of being filled with the Holy Spirit?… Yet Mary did not refuse belief nor did she resist her role. She submitted her will and promised her services.  For when she asked: ‘How shall this be done?’ she was not doubting the outcome but asking in what manner the event would come about…

“Mary is already discussing the matter, but the [priest] does not quite believe the news that is brought to him. In saying that he does not know, he declares his unbelief; and in order to believe he seems to be looking for further proof.

“Then she says, ‘Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord. Be it done to me according to your word.’  Such humility!  Such devotion!  She calls herself the Lord’s servant – she who is the chosen Mother – and the astonishing news she has received does not turn her head…Yes, Mary was very, very blessed.  She far surpassed the priest.  The priest wouldn’t believe.  The Virgin corrected his error.”

 St. Ambrose, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke: Book Two.

“The angel greeted Mary with a new address, which I could not find anywhere else in Scripture. I ought to explain this expression briefly.  The angel says, ‘Hail, full of Grace.’  I do not remember having read this world elsewhere in Scripture.  An expression of this kind is not addressed to a male.  This greeting was reserved for Mary alone.  Mary knew the Law.  She was holy, and had learned the writings of the prophets by meditating on them daily.  If Mary had known that someone else had been greeted by words like these, she would never have been frightened by this strange greeting. Hence the angel says to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary!  You have found grace in God’s eyes.  Behold, you will conceive in your womb.  You will bear a son, and you will name him ‘Jesus.’  He will be great, and will be called ‘Son of the Most High.’

“Scripture also says of John, ‘He will be great,’ and the angel Gabriel attests to this.  But, when Jesus (who is truly great and truly exalted) comes, then John (who earlier had been ‘great’) becomes less. Jesus said, ‘He was a lamp, burning and shining, and at that hour you wished to rejoice in his light.’  The greatness of our Savior was not manifested when he was born.  It has shone forth only afterward, when his enemies seemed to have extinguished it…Ponder the Lord’s power, how it has filled the world – that is, the heavens, the earth, and the nether regions.  He passed through heaven itself and rose to the regions above…If you understand this, you will also realize that Scripture does not say, ‘He will be great,’ carelessly, but the word has been fulfilled in deed.  Jesus our Lord is great, both present and absent.  He has endowed this assembly and gathering of ours with a share of his fortitude.  That each of us may deserve to receive it, we pray to the Lord Jesus, to whom is glory and power for ages and ages. Amen.”

Origen, Homilies on Luke: Homily 6.

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