Advent Reflection: The assumptions of Mary

‘“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”’

(Luke 1:30-34)

I don’t know how I would have reacted, had I been in Mary’s position. I suspect I wouldn’t have been half as collected, willing and faith-filled in my response to the news that I was about to give birth to the long-awaited Messiah. 

I imagine that if I were a woman, betrothed and expecting to be married in a matter of months, then upon hearing that I was going to give birth to a child, my natural assumption would be that this child would be the result of my forthcoming union. I would assume that the angel was telling me about something that wasn’t going to happen immediately, but would come to pass in time, in the culturally expected order of events: betrothal > marriage > sex > pregnancy > (and nine months later) birth. 

But Mary’s response is quite different. She doesn’t assume a ‘natural’ or ‘logical’ outworking of the prophetic word, which pushes it off a few months into the future. Rather, her response suggests that she assumes that the prophecy will be fulfilled whilst she is still a virgin

Mary seems to assume that whatever God is going to do is about to start now. She doesn’t consider her present circumstances to be a limitation for God, or assume that He could only do what He has said at some point in the future, when other things have fallen into place. She doesn’t try to force the situation, as Abraham had with Hagar. Rather, she simply takes God at His word, and even though she questions how it will come to pass, she assumes that He is capable of doing what He has said.

How often do we view the prophetic through the lens of our natural understanding, and try to fit what God says into the framework of what seems most logical to us? How often do we try to pre-empt how God will work, and assume that He will do it in a way that fits with what makes sense to us? And in so doing, how do our assumptions reduce the miraculous to nothing more than a well-ordered chain of natural events?

How often do we push off into the future things He may want to start now, because we feel that we are not ready? How often do we see our own circumstances or situation as a limitation to God, and assume that a whole load of things would need to change before He can work?

How can we learn to assume and trust as Mary did? And what might be possible if we did?


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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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