November 30th, 2009
By Dorothy Jean Weaver, Professor of New Testament
She’s just a young woman, an ordinary young woman. She lives in Nazareth of Galilee, an obscure little village tucked away in the hills. Most likely she’s still a teenager. For certain she’s a virgin. And she’s engaged to be married. Marriage happens early in Nazareth. Her name is Mary. And her fiancé is Joseph, from the house of David. Mary has most likely never left her hometown. She probably knows nothing about the world beyond Nazareth. But Mary knows exactly what lies down the road. She will marry Joseph, bake his bread, bear his children, and live out the ordinary life of the village women of Nazareth. Or so she imagines.
But God has other ideas. Extraordinary ideas. God wills to bring salvation into the world . . . . in the form of an infant child whose name will be Jesus. And for Jesus, this infant-sized salvation venture, God needs a mother’s womb. Mary is a virgin. Her womb is available. So God sends an extraordinary messenger to break into Mary’s everyday world and to interrupt her ordinary life forever.
It’s a message that Mary could never have imagined in her wildest dreams (1:31-33). It’s a message that she cannot fully understand (1:29, 34). It’s a message that could one day prove dangerous, perhaps even deadly (2:34-35). But this is a message that calls for response. Immediate, whole-hearted, whole-bodied response. God needs Mary’s body. And God needs Mary’s consent.
The life that Mary thought she knew is gone forever. Mary can no longer see what lies down the road. But Mary opens her heart and her body to God for a future that God only knows: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (2:38a).
God grant us such courage and such trust.