3rd Week of Advent
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:26-38
Centuries before Jesus came to this world, the people of Israel had been promised a Messiah, one who would come to redeem them. It isn’t hard to imagine that every devout Jewish woman wondered if she would be the one through whom he would come or at least give birth to a daughter who would.
In today’s Gospel, Mary finds herself face to face with the archangel Gabriel, who has been sent from God to bring her the news that she is the one whom Heaven has chosen to bring Israel’s Messiah into this world. The angel informs Mary that she will be with child. He instructs her as to the name this child is to receive and what he will accomplish during his life. Mary is bewildered.
How was this child going to be conceived within her womb since she was a virgin? How can any woman conceive a child except in the ordinary way? It is then that the angel informs Mary that God Himself is going to supernaturally place the Child within her womb. This Child is no ordinary Child, and He will not be conceived in the ordinary way, for He is to be called the Son of the Most High.
To prove to Mary that God has power to do whatever He chooses, the angel mentions her barren cousin, Elizabeth, who is now in her sixth month of pregnancy, “for nothing is impossible with God.” Wow! Mary believed that the Messiah would one day be born, but in this particular way?
Israel believed that the Redeemer would come to the world through its national line, but in this particular way, a way which defied all natural laws and was wholly out of the ordinary? Would Mary believe in God to do the impossible? Would she yield to the will of God even though this most certainly was not the way in which she (or anyone in all Israel for that matter) expected the Messiah to come into the world?
“I am the handmaid of the Lord,” she replied. “May it be done to me according to your word.” And with that, the angel departed from her.
Perhaps you find yourself in a situation not unlike what Mary had to face. You have prayed to God in order to receive certain things, to do certain things, or even to have certain things eliminated from your life altogether. God has answered your prayer, but not in the way that you were expecting. He has manifested His will, but He has done so in a way that is now challenging you to believe and trust in His power to work out that will in a seemingly impossible situation. The way in which He has answered your prayer is defying the manner in which you expected Him to do so. He has taken you completely by surprise in the method which He has chosen.
You have prayed for God to bring a loved one back to the Faith. You expected God to simply wave His magic wand over the lost soul while he peacefully slept, but instead, God has placed him on a bed of suffering in order to get his attention. And now you find yourself, like Mary, asking “How can this be? How can God bring my loved one to Himself through hideous circumstances such as these?”
Nothing is impossible with God. You have asked God to help you to be the light of the world in your home and in your neighborhood so that Christ will be glorified in your life. In answer to your prayer a hideous darkness seems to have fallen over your entire household with problem after problem crashing and descending and breaking upon it like unrelenting waves in a storm that will not come to a merciful end.
You ask, “How can this be? How can God make me the light of the world when there is nothing but unending darkness in my life?” Nothing is impossible with God. You have asked Him to infuse you with His power, and you have been plagued with weakness instead. You have asked Him to give you the grace to walk in the power of His resurrection, and He has nailed you to a cross instead.
Over and over, you find yourself asking “How? How can this be? How can God work out His good and perfect will in the midst of these circumstances? How can God be saying ‘Yes’ to my prayers and all that I have asked of Him in this way? ” Nothing is impossible with God.
Are you following in Mary’s footsteps when it comes to faith, belief, and obedience in God to do the impossible simply because He has the power to do so? Or are you stumbling because you’re still entangled in the whys and hows of your situation?
Instead of focusing on moment-by-moment obedience to God in the midst of your bewildering circumstances and reminding yourself that with God, all things are possible, are you expending precious energy trying to escape those circumstances and look for another way? Are you so distracted trying to figure out how it’s all going to work out or how it’s all going to end that you have lost sight of what God is trying to accomplish within you in the here and now?
Usually, when we stumble in our walk of faith, it is because our thought life is not what it should be. It is our thoughts which cause us to stumble, not our circumstances. Where the mind goes, the man will follow. What thoughts are demanding to be entertained in your mind as you confront your “impossible” situations head on?
Your Father in Heaven is calling you to trust, yield, and believe in Him to do the possible in what looks like the impossible from your perspective. Are you giving Him what He wants?
In today’s journal entry, write out any thoughts and reflections that you have with regard to today’s Gospel reading and this mini devotion.