Understanding our Faith – Advent IV

In the time of Advent, the figure of Mary, the mother of Jesus is to the forefront and this is more and more so as the weeks of Advent progress towards Christmas.  This is generally so but this year – Year A readings – Joseph gets more attention than he gets in the readings of Year B and Year C for the Sundays of Advent.  This is because in Year A, we use the gospel of St Matthew and his account of the birth of Jesus, and he concentrates on Joseph and his role.  However, for the scripture readings for Christmas we will switch back to the gospel of St Luke whose account is more fixed in our minds.  His presentation of the birth of Jesus, and the lead up to it, is also more graphic.

I want to concentrate this week on one of the passages in St Luke’s gospel leading up to the birth of Jesus and that is the passage presenting the Annunciation of the birth of Jesus to Mary his mother-to-be.  This is one of the most famous passages of the gospels and there is barely a classical artist who did not paint it at least once.  The passage is in chapter 1, verses 26 to 38.

There is a richness in the story of the Annunciation which is often overlooked.  The process going on in the passage is often ignored and the emphasis goes straight to the last sentence where Mary says: “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me as you have said.”

But before Our Lady says this, she says and thinks other things!  We are told that she was deeply disturbed by the words the angel said to her and wondered what they could mean (v. 29), the angel tells her not to be afraid, so clearly she was showing signs of fear (v. 30).  Mary says to the messenger of God: “But how can this come about, since I have no knowledge of man?”  She has a problem here and is questioning what can and cannot happen.  And do you notice that she has to give her consent, she has to agree to let this happen to her.

Mary goes through a process during which she has fears, wonderings and questions, and it is through these that she comes to give herself over to the Lord.  

She goes through a process of coming to faith and trust not unlike our own.  She is not just subservient, she is deeply involved in all this as a human being with her questions and ponderings, and it is right that she should have them, just as it is right that we should have ours.

By Fr Frank O’Loughlin

 

Faith Reflections

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Kerry Bourke

Great emphasis on a very important part of the Nativity story. Thank you Fr. Frank.

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