by Gretchen Pacheco, Guest Contributor to Catholic Majority
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him 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 ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38)
And so begins the first season of Advent, the first time of waiting for the joyful event that would change the world with love. Every year we get to share in the experience of preparing for the birth of the Savior. Similar to Mary, many of us find that entering into joyful expectation is blocked by other concerns. Mary is initially troubled by the message Gabriel brings her. How often do we find the Advent season to be more stressful than joyful? What concerns or worries distract us from preparing our hearts for the joy of Christmas?
God knew that Mary, like us, would need reassurance. Gabriel’s words serve as a reminder that God has provided for all, that everything will be okay. Even Mary, Jesus’ mama, the one who has “found favor with God,” experienced worry and uncertainty. Our heavenly Father knows our human frailty and our need for comfort and He sends us the encouragement that we need.
What are the obstacles, worries, concerns, or distractions that are keeping you from experiencing the joy of Advent? What is keeping you from letting go of them? I encourage you today to give all of this to God, making space for peace, joy, and love.
[Gretchen Pacheco is a wife, mother, and joy seeker. She has over 15 years experience in youth ministry and especially loves speaking about chastity and the power of God’s healing love.]