Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Would You Believe?

In today’s Gospel I think we learn more about Mary than about Zechariah.  At Gabriel’s appearance, both Mary and Zechariah were taken aback and afraid.  They were astonished—Gabriel is magnificent!    They were both ready to hear what the angel had to say, but as the message unfolded, one believed totally in the power of God, whereas the other doubted: “Can you really do that?”  We hear at the end that Zechariah gets chastised a bit.  I wonder what would have happened if the people hadn’t been praying outside. It’s a real question.  What would have happened had they not been praying?  In a sense, God overrides Zechariah’s doubt, and still gives the gift, and perhaps because of those praying outside. 

In Mary’s case, the angel’s response comes to us as a hint of what Mary was thinking, for he said, “Nothing is impossible for God.”  It’s as if he is the echo of her own thoughts, of what would have been going through her head as she heard this marvelous decree.  Compare Gabriel’s response to Zechariah, “I was sent to speak to you and announce to you this good news.  But now you will be speechless… because you did not believe my words.” Gabriel is a bit taken aback!  Angels were giving messages throughout this whole time in our salvation history.  Joseph believed and it was credited to him.  Mary believed and we see what happened: the Savior is born.  Zechariah didn’t believe.  Even in the face of angels, he couldn’t believe the word of God. 

That disbelief of Zechariah can chasten us a bit too.  We should ask ourselves if even an angel would tell us something, would we believe it?  It could be a message about ourselves or about another.  Would we believe in the good of another if an angel told us, or would we doubt it?  If an angel himself came to you and said, “God loves you so much… this is what He’s going to do for you…”  Would you believe it?  That’s a good question as we approach Christmas.  There is a gift at Christmas for each one.  Will you believe it?  Now is the time for preparation.  Pray, pray that you will believe.

Reflection on Luke 1:5-24 by Mother Maria Michael Newe, OSB.