“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus…The angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God’…And Mary said, ‘Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” -Luke 1:31-38
One of the things we celebrate about Mary the mother of Jesus was her simple, yet profound faith. She took God at his word, even the angel whom God sent. She was aware enough of biology to ask how God was going to accomplish this conception. The angel’s strange explanation would have left the rest of us unconvinced about the process, but not Mary. Mary understood what God overshadowed, He occupied. Her “yes” became a mercy seat where God and humanity came together once again, and in due time blood and water would bring forth new life.
After the visitation of the angel, Mary left to speak to her cousin Elizabeth. It was an important visit, for the angel told her of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. It was a sign for her, a confirmation. If anyone could understand the thing God was doing, surely it was going to be Elizabeth. The angel’s word pointed to her, one who was bearing a child well beyond the years of possibility. Such tales were only told of Abraham and Sarah. Elizabeth’s pregnancy would serve as needed encouragement for what was still ahead.
Even before Mary saw Elizabeth, she believed. This faith was the fertile ground for God’s work in her. What was so often said of her throughout Luke’s gospel is a key for us; Luke 2:19 “Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
She had this wonderful ability to nurture the word of God within her. Mary would hold onto and nurture the Word within her bringing it into fullness despite the shame and opposition that came her way. God sent Joseph to help. God forged a partnership of importance with two people who would believe Him. Joseph made a way for what God was going to do. He chose what God was doing even if it challenged his understanding. His own faith was being tested both in God and in the woman.
God remained faithful to help them. Through the unfolding days God would confirm with signs small and big that their cooperation was truly a partnership with the divine. Even the census in Judea was a strange gift. It removed them from the words of criticism and suspicion in their local community. It gave them the opportunity to birth God’s word in peace.
God knows how to forge strong partnership. His loving covenant with humanity was forged in His own flesh. This partnership is stewarded by faithful women and men who hear His Word and say “yes”. Today he continues to call to his own, men and women who will take the Word He has given and fully steward it to fruitfulness.