2 SAMUEL 7:1-5, 8B-12, 14A, 16 ROMANS 16:25-27 LUKE 1:26-38
We generally think of the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary as the one and only annunciation reported in the Gospels. However, there are three annunciations in the Gospel of Luke. Each one is unique and important for our reflection.
The first annunciation was to a priest, Zachariah. While he was in the temple taking his turn to offer incense in the sanctuary, Gabriel appeared to him. He was told not to be afraid.
Even though he was an old man and his wife, Elizabeth, barren, he was promised a son. Their son, John, filled with the Holy Spirit, would be the last prophet of Israel and would prepare the people for the coming of the redeemer.
The second annunciation was to Mary. She, too, was counselled not to be afraid. Though a virgin, Gabriel told her that she was chosen to have a child through the power of the Holy Spirit. His name was to be Jesus which means savior. He would be a great king, and his kingdom would last forever.
The third annunciation was to shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth. Gabriel, speaking from the divine glory, warned them not to be afraid and directed them to the new-born king. They found him
wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
These three announcements cover all of salvation history. Zachariah and Elizabeth represent Israel, old and barren, yet ever faithful. Mary, young and fertile, is the New Israel, bravely committing herself as the handmaid of the Lord to the divine invitation. The shepherds, God’s poor ones, are the first to see, the first to believe, and the first to announce the birth of the redeemer. Today, we renew our faithfulness to the God who loves us and who has journeyed with us throughout history. Today, we pledge our commitment to the plan God has laid out for humankind. Today, we see; we renew our belief; we commit to announce the good news we’ve discovered.
Lord, how can this be? How it is that you have found me and called me by name? What is your will for me? What do you ask of me? May the Spirit heal me of my fear that I might say with Mary, “I am the servant of the Lord.” Amen.