Monday, December 5, 2011


Part IV, 122, 3
One evening about sundown, before Joseph had
returned home, Gabriel appeared to Mary by the side
of a low stone table and, after she had recovered
her composure, said: "I come at the bidding of one
who is my Master and whom you shall love and nurture.
To you, Mary, I bring glad tidings when I announce that
the conception within you is ordained by heaven,
and that in due time you will become the mother of a son;
you shall call him Joshua, and he shall inaugurate the
kingdom of heaven on earth and among men.
Speak not of this matter save to Joseph and
to Elizabeth, your kinswoman, to whom I have also
appeared, and who shall presently also bear a son,
whose name shall be John, and who will prepare
the way for the message of deliverance which
your son shall proclaim to men with great power
and deep conviction. And doubt not my word, Mary,
for this home has been chosen as the mortal habitat of
the child of destiny. My benediction rests upon you,
the power of the Most Highs will strengthen you,
and the Lord of the earth shall overshadow you.
Mary pondered this visitation secretly in her heart
for many weeks until of a certainty she knew she was
with child, before she dared to disclose these unusual events
to her husband. When Joseph heard all about this,
although he had great confidence in Mary, he
was much troubled and could not sleep for many nights.
At first Joseph had doubts about the visitation.
Then when he became well-nigh persuaded that
Mary had really heard the voice and beheld the form
of the divine messenger, he was torn in mind
as he pondered how such things could be.
How could the offspring of human beings be
a child of divine destiny? Never could Joseph
reconcile these conflicting ideas until, after
several weeks of thought, both he and Mary reached
the conclusion that they had been chosen to become
the parents of the Messiah, though it had hardly
been the Jewish concept that the expected deliverer
was to be of divine nature. Upon arriving at this
momentous conclusion, Mary hastened
to depart for a visit with Elizabeth.
Upon her return, Mary went to visit her parents,
Joachim and Hannah. Her two brothers and
two sisters, as well as her parents, were always very
skeptical about the divine mission of Jesus,
though, of course, at this time they knew nothing
of the Gabriel visitation. But Mary did confide to
her sister Salome that she thought her son was
destined to become a great teacher.
Gabriel's announcement to Mary was made the day
following the conception of Jesus and was
the only event of supernatural occurrence connected
with her entire experience of carrying and bearing
the child of promise.
The angel summoned Mary, betrothed to Joseph,
from the rather safe place of conventional wisdom to a realm where few of the old rules would make much sense.  She entered that unknown called "virgin territory."  She was on her own there.  No one else could judge for her the validity
of her experience.
She can measure her reality against Scripture, the teachings
of her tradition, her reason and intellect, and the counsel of wise friends.  But finally it is up to her.  The redemption of the creation is resting on the consent - the choice of this mortal woman to believe fearlessly that what she is experiencing is true.  And to claim and live out that truth by conceiving the fruit of salvation.
Loretta Ross-Gatta
Readings for Advent & Christmas

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