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How can this be?

Blog — 16th December 2020

Fourth Sunday of Advent

20 December 2020

‘How can this be?’

[ 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Luke 1:46b-55; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38 ]

The recited and cherished story of the annunciation invites us once again to ponder with the afraid, surprised and perplexed Mary upon hearing the extraordinary news. Mary was as gripped by fear at the divine visitation as Zechariah was. She was surprised to hear the promise, once announced to the Great King David by the prophet, being reiterated by the angel Gabriel and announced to her, a young unmarried girl of Nazareth. The promise of the coming of the Saviour who would be called the son of the Most High and would establish an everlasting kingdom was about to be fulfilled through her. She was perplexed: ‘How can this be?’

Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word

All her fear, surprise and perplexity was answered with a simple reminder that it would not happen by human actions but by divine power. Nothing is impossible with God, who in merciful remembered Elizabeth in her old age and who is faithful in keeping his promises ages from past. This brings Mary’s calm, trusting, and obedient words: ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word’, which is followed by her song of praise.

The story of the annunciation is an apt reminder of who God is for the afraid, surprised and perplexed who live in these strange times. It shifts our eyes to see the almighty, merciful and faithful God who comes to us as humble servants. It invites us to take part in what he does with calm and trusting obedience in the power of the Holy Spirit as he lifts up the lowly and fills the hungry. It urges us to join Mary’s song of praise: ‘My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.’

MiJa Wi 

Lecturer in Biblical Studies and Mission and Director of ESEA Centre