Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man whose name was Joseph, of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. Having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, you highly favored one! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women!”Luke 1: 26-38
But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered what kind of salutation this might be. The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and shall name him ‘Jesus.’ He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever. There will be no end to his Kingdom.”
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, seeing I am a virgin?”
The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore also the holy one who is born from you will be called the Son of God. Behold, Elizabeth your relative also has conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing spoken by God is impossible.”
Mary said, “Behold, the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.
Some archangels have their proper names that conceal the kind of service that is entrusted to them. So Michael means: “Who’s like God”, Gabriel: “God is my strength”, Rafael: “God heals”. There is a fourth Archangel less known to us, appearing three times in the Old Testament. His name is Uriel, which means “God is light”.
Today we want to focus on Gabriel, the archangel who was sent to Mary to announce her the joy that she will conceive and give birth to a son whom she will name Jesus (Lk 1:31). In the Old Testament, in the book of the prophet Daniel, Gabriel appears as the one announcing the messianic era (cf. Dan 9: 21-27).
In the Annunciation, this message is fulfilled. Just as Daniel was the chosen and beloved man in the Old Testament, so in the New Testament Mary is the chosen and most beloved one, as evidenced by the title full of grace. Appearing in Nazareth, the archangel greets Mary with words expressing deepest respect for the future Mother of God. In Semitic culture, where a woman was treated like a slave, depriving her of all dignity and respect, this behavior of Gabriel was something surprising and incomprehensible. Moreover, the high priests were allowed, and only once a year, to enter a place considered to be holy of holies, in order to apologize to God for the sins of Israel in a penitential act. But here in the Annunciation scene God meets man. In the person of a woman He talks like with an equal and raises her to the dignity of His Son’s Mother – Mother of God. With a greeting, the evangelist puts the Greek word chaire in Gabriel’s mouth, which expresses encouragement for joy. The word rejoice is characteristic of Messianic prophecy about the coming of the Kingdom of the Lord.
In the further part of the dialogue we hear a beautiful phrase spoken by Gabriel to Mary: the Lord is with you. He talks about God’s protection and help for His Son’s Chosen Mother. God, as a loving Father, could not leave Mary alone, including her special participation in the work of the world’s redemption. So the words The Lord is with You are not just for comfort but they are a statement of God’s reality. This real presence of God in the life of the Son of Mary – Jesus, will be repeated many times in the Gospel pages, precisely by God’s messengers – angels.
In the same way during the liturgy, as a concerned Father, God speaks to us through the mouth of the priest, with the words spoken at the Annunciation: The Lord be with you! The Lord wants to be among us when we pray for his glory, thanksgiving for the gifts of creation and life, redemption and salvation. In addition, the prayer of thanksgiving carries healing power and raises our hearts and thoughts upwards. Hence the encouragement to use this form of prayer as often as possible, because the Lord makes himself present in it in a special way with all his might.
St. Luke, describing the scene of the Annunciation, says that Gabriel entered Mary’s house, and after the conversation he left her. These two words indicate that the angel did not appear to Mary unexpectedly, but was her guest.
God wants to be a guest, not an intruder in our hearts. In the Revelation of John, we read: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me. (Rev 3:20).
God wants to enter our hearts as someone expected and invited and fill them with joy in the Holy Spirit. So what can we do to make God an awaited guest of our soul? Mary’s attitude in the scene of the Annunciation is expectation with a pure, prayerful heart that listens to God’s will.
Let this be the best answer for us. And let Archangel Gabriel, continually proclaiming God’s power, be for us, during difficult times of our life, a herald of the Good News, that nothing is impossible for God (Lk 1:37).