With God, all things are possible. God could have worked salvation in many other ways, ways that don’t require our cooperation. But God chose to redeem the world through becoming one of us. This meant that, through the work of God the Holy Spirit, God the Son became fully human, with a human mother. God chose to invite Mary to participate in this plan of redemption in a unique way. Only one woman was needed to be the God-bearer, to be the one through whom the Son would take on human flesh. That said, all Christians are called to be those who, through baptism and eucharist, bear Christ in the world.
God’s invitation for Mary’s participation in God’s mission to restore right relationship with all of humanity required Mary to take a huge risk. She could have faced a death sentence from her people for getting pregnant before she was married. As Church, what is the risky ministry in which God calls us to participate?
While Mary’s invitation was startling and troubling, it was not completely out of the blue. Mary was known by God and Mary knew God. Mary recognized that the message she received from the Angel Gabriel was from God. Mary’s head and heart had been prepared to hear God’s call to a unique mission. God’s request to use her body in this unique ministry was in the context of this long relationship that we don’t get to hear about. How, as church, have we been living into our relationship with God so that we can hear our unique invitation to serve as a Christ-bearing community?
Mary’s call to her unique mission in the church is within a context. Just as Elizabeth’s son, 30 years or so after the events of today’s readings, would sign God’s invitation to the people of Israel using words and clothing that had been established centuries before his day, God gave Mary a sign that would allow her to see the pattern of redemption that God was using in her life. The beginning of God’s work through Israel started with a faithful but infertile elderly couple’s longing for a child. Mary would have known this part of the history of her people. God repeats this pattern of beginning a new work with this familiar act of power, but not with a stranger. God repeated this pattern with Mary’s relative Elizabeth. God invites in a context that includes other people who are faithful to him and in a pattern that his people can recognize. What patterns from how God was worked with his people in the past and present do you see and how can they build up our faith in our unique call to be church here and now?