Beyond the Scripture readings on John the Baptist, Catholics around the world have heard the Annunciation story this month as well.
Can you imagine being Mary with an angel coming to you to announce what will be a life altering event for not just you but the entire world?
The Annunciation by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
If it was you, how would you react?
Given the angel’s need to tell Mary to not be afraid, one can surmise that seeing the angel could be a terrifying occurrence. Would you be cowering in fear and wondering why you’d been singled out for this kind of visit? Or, would you be more like Mary and without hesitation head His call?
This past Sunday, our pastor spent some time comparing Mary’s response to the visitation with that of Zechariah’s response to his visit by an angel.
Both Mary and Zechariah were told that they would have a son by the angel. And, both could easily consider it an absurd statement. After all, Zechariah’s wife Elizabeth was barren and Mary was a virgin. Yet, the similarities end here as their responses were completely different.
Zechariah responded with “How shall I know?” while Mary asked “How Can this be?”
Zechariah’s response seems completely understandable to us. After all, what the angel is telling him seems impossible. Through his response, he ‘dares’ the angel and God to prove something. God’s response? Zechariah can not speak until the day arrived to name his son. Only when he write down that his name shall by John is he able to vocalize again.
When he finally has the ability to speak, Zechariah launches into what is known as the Benedictus or Canticle of Zachary.
“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David. Through his prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant. This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hand of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life. You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace." (Lk 1:67-79)
Mary’s response is completely different in that it is more a call for clarification rather than a challenge to what God has ordained.
She believed from the beginning and did not falter in her faith. Upon the angel’s explanation that the Holy Spirit would descend upon her for conception to occur, she accepts with the words, “You see before you the Lord’s servant, let it happen to me as you have said.”
So when you hear God’s call, how do you respond?
Are you doubting or challenging like Zechariah or do you immediately respond in faith like Mary?
I know that I would like to believe I am always quick to make the leap of faith like Mary, but fear that I have often reacted like Zechariah.
This Advent and Christmas season has me seeking to not only experience God’s Grace to listen, but to actually hear what is said.
This post is being linked up to this week’s 40 Days of Seeking Him meme. I hope you will come back to share more during this season of Advent.