In our world, the world of political commentary and social strife, it’s incredibly hard to look at the bright side of things. The world we live in is one filled with darkness, at times, and it can seem painful to have to slog through. As the saying goes, all it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing. Sometimes, in the world we live in, it seems like a lot of good men have done nothing, doesn’t it?
But, today, one of the greatest days for those of us with faith, we don’t have to think about all the good men who did nothing. We only have to think about the one good person who did everything.
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
The bolded part here is where the power in the conversation actually shifts. Mary is not just accepting this. She is giving her permission. This moment is referred to as Mary’s fiat, a Latin term meaning “an official authorization.” Thus, we see that Gabriel isn’t telling her she will do this. He is saying that it is the Lord’s intention, should she accept. Her response tells both Gabriel and God that, yes, I will bear this child.
Rarely in history do you see any choices given to women when they are ordained by a higher power to take up some holy cause. The choice isn’t there, as though destiny or whatever higher power is in charge simply forced the holy charge onto them. In this case, Mary’s allowance of this charge is one of the most progressive moments in both history and religion. However, simply saying “Your will be done” is not the end of her legacy in Christianity. It is simply the first in a lifetime of responsibility that she will take in guiding Jesus.
When you think about it, the young woman named Mary, who was engaged to a carpenter named Joseph, had everything to lose by conceiving a child out of wedlock. At best, her engagement would be over and her reputation ruined. Nevertheless, Mary accepted the task God had given her. It was nothing short of a game-changer.
That brings us, nine months later, to today. We celebrate the birth of Mary’s son, Jesus of Nazareth, and all that he brought into the world. He represented a change, something we hadn’t seen before. He was God’s Grace, His ability to forgive, and all it took to bring about this revolution was one person allowing it.
That’s a pretty major thing. That is what today represents. Amid the presents, the food, the family gatherings, the church services, and the travel, there is a presence that is only possible because Mary said “Let it be.” We can say one person can change the world as a motivator, but Mary lived that. Without her, there is no Jesus. There is no Christmas.
So, today, reflect on that moment. Reflect on how, in the presence of God’s messenger, a young woman who would no doubt have been startled by an angel’s sudden appearance, gave her assent to the proposal that she would carry God’s child.
One of the greatest songs of this time of year is “Mary, Did You Know?” It’s hard to imagine that someone who was young, unmarried, and suddenly found herself pregnant could fully understand what she was bringing into the world. But Mary had faith. She allowed it to happen, and the result was a world-changing child.
All it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing. But for good to succeed, it just took one woman.
Merry Christmas, everyone, and God bless.