Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent
(Isaiah 7:10-14; Luke 1:26-38)
A lovely collect prayer was said to be used in the Byzantine mass on Christmas. Directed to Jesus, the prayer asks the Savior what the people might give him for his birth. The prayer then suggests the perfect gift -- a mother, a pure and holy mother. Today’s gospel reading shows the fittingness of that gift.
The gospel contrasts Mary to Zechariah to whom the same angel announced the birth of a son. Where Zechariah is incredulous about the announcement, Mary only shows interest. Because Zechariah’s wife is beyond child-bearing years, he requests a sign to assure the credibility of the angel’s statement. Mary only asks how her even more miraculous virgin-birth could take place probably because she needs to know what she has to do to make it happen. Wonderfully she is given a sign verifying what the angel has told her. Her relative Elizabeth, Zechariah’s wife, is bearing a son in her old age. Then Mary makes explicit her submission to God’s will. “…I am the handmaiden of the Lord,” she tells the angel, “Be it done to me according to your word.”
Mary is indeed our representative gift to the Christ-child. We strive to be like her in both sinlessness and devotion. We set our sights on following God’s will in all that we say and do. Especially when this road turns uphill, we pray to Him for assistance.