Today's Gospel account presents us with that moment in human history when a humble teenage girl was asked to be the mother of the Savior. It is a scene that is filled with mystery, as the words of the angel echo in our ears, "For nothing will be impossible for God."
The angel tells Mary, "You are to conceive (not in the natural way) and bear a son." Something like this never happened before in human history, something that seemed to be a total impossibility in the eyes of human beings. Yet, Mary listened, and she responded, "I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."
I think that what gave Mary the courage to make such a response was the assurance of the angel in the preceding verse, "for nothing will be impossible for God." Mary trusted in the God of history, the God she knew who had done mighty deeds throughout the history of Israel.
Sometimes in our own lives we face challenges and difficulties that seem impossible to overcome. We wonder, we question what is it all about, and maybe we are on the verge of tossing in the towel because we see no solution.
It is at moments like these that we need to remember that we, like Mary, walk by faith, not be sight. One thing is certain: our God is a God of surprises. Taking a walk through the Bible, we find so many who have encountered God in such unbelievable words spoken to them.
The first among these was Abraham, our father in faith. Abraham was old and childless when God promised to make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. When the time came, his wife Sarah could not believe this word because it sounded absurd to her. Just as Mary trusted that God’s decision is the best, we can also see willingness in Abraham to rely on the decision made by God. When Abraham was asked to sacrifice his only son Isaac, he did not ask God about his promise. He believed that God never deceives. Other such acts include the widow of Zeraphat and her encounter with the Prophet Elijah that the oil jug and flour jar would not go empty. Then we have the Shunammite woman and Elisha, and the promise of a baby. And we cannot forget Zachariah and Elizabeth.
Whenever you find it difficult to believe God due to the challenges and difficulties you are facing, check out how many times it is emphasized that nothing is impossible for God.
Christmas reminds us once again that our God is a God of surprises. And just maybe this year as we endure the pandemic, we will once again see this God of surprises at work in our very midst!
- Father Dennis, December 20, 2020